Levent Gurses has an article, 10 Mistakes in Transitioning to Agile, in the Dec 2006 Dr. Dobbs Journal. He writes about the most common mistakes that companies make when transitioning from “legacy development methodologies” to agile ones. In this series of short articles for the winter holidays, we’re looking at each of the ten mistakes he identified. Enjoy the light reading, and don’t think too much about work.
Mistake 1: Go All In
Levent points out that the biggest mistake is to not do a pilot project, but rather to convert a large and risky project – or even worse, all projects. He points out that it is a mistake because you won’t have time to learn from mistakes.
Politics trumps people. Levent is right about needing to do a pilot project, but not just to minimize the cost of mistakes. People in large organizations can become entrenched in their ways. Changing the way “we do business” is ultimately a top-down decision. Agile is very much a bottoms-up religion. With a pilot project, we can convince people up-the-chain, in order to drive change back down. It’s just the nature of the beast in large companies.
Using a pilot project is also a form of “agile change management”, where we gradually change our company over time, improving with each iteration. Fewer mistakes, better forecasting, solving problems that are unique to our company along the way.