The Nature of the Rightshifting Challenge
[From the Archive: Originally posted at Amplify.com Aug 5, 2010]
The Challenge of Sustainable Agile Adoption
You ask about the nature of the challenge of sustainable agile adoption, as I see it.
Most folks see the challenge as mostly one of getting one or more development teams working in an “Agile” way, with the implicit assumption that if we can make that happen, then those teams’ customers will begin to appreciate the benefits, and move progressively towards a wholesale adoption of Agile.
Sadly, this is not the nature of the challenge. The real challenge is to help organisations – those seeking more effective software (and product) development practices, at least – to change their mindset, aka world-view.
It’s Really about Shifting Mindsets
The majority of organisations contemplating or attempting Agile adoption have a prevailing “Analytic” mindset (see the Marshall Model mindsets chart). The Analytic mindset is not fertile ground for the Agile way of being, characterised as it is by command-and-control management, Theory-X beliefs, functional silos, local optima, efficiencies, etc.
Any sustainable agile adoption must look to a shift in mindset in the host organisation as a whole, else expect eventually to be spurned.
Use Means Relevant to Mindset Shift
Agile adoptions are often a veiled attempt to get to grips with the Synergistic mindset (this characterised by e.g. systems thinking, a focus on end-to-end performance, Theory Y beliefs, etc.). Yet, because the nature of this challenge is most often unrecognised, few relevant or effective means are employed to address the challenges of this transition.