Oct 19

It takes time

How long does it take to implement scrum and turn behavior to a more agile approach? Scrum is something that helps to release software more often and faster with high quality. So this does mean that you want it as soon as possible. Scrum in itself is very simple. There are a few basic rules and roles and as long as you stick to these rules you should be able to see results very quickly and you can have it up and running in no time. At least that’s what everybody is telling. But is that true. I have encountered various companies and people who try to get it to work and they all found out that it is very hard to bring it to success.

It is not because scrum is so difficult but because it also demands that you change the structure of you company. And this is something that encounters a lot of resistance. All of a sudden people have to start thinking in business value and sales people will have to come up with a whole new strategy to sell to their costumers. Developers need to start thinking not only in software solutions but also in what is good for the product and therefore the customer or the company. Management needs to stop micro managing and take on a more open and leading approach. And because of this almost every aspect within a company needs to turn around. Even with enthusiasm and willingness this is something that does not change overnight. From what I’ve seen this can take even up to two to three years, especially in larger companies. After the first year people start to demand that it works, especially the ones who are in control of the money flow and not in control of the change. They want to see results. You can easily recognize when this turning point, or better hurdle is to popup it’s nasty head. The demand for clear deadlines and tight planning emerges. All of a sudden pressure is applied because visible results are needed.

But in change management, and that’s what this is, these changes are sometimes just barely visible. There can be cut down in meetings. Small stuff is delivered. Quality of the work goes up but you can not measure it. And more important is that mindsets changes. The human mind is one of the most difficult computers to reprogram. Law does not allow water boarding so you have to use subtle ways to get them to change. This is where the agile mindset operates. Slowly but surely attempt to influence the mind in a positive manner. The start a shared understanding that change is necessary in order to gain more success.

Scrum can be implemented within a short time. And for this the idea is that a coach or trainer is only needed for a few months. But it doesn’t end when all the stickies are on the walls. That’s when the real work and challenge starts. That’s when people will start to change. And that can take a while. It can easily take one to two years to get to a satisfactory level. Sounds like a long stretch but keep in mind that most larger companies took about eight to ten years before to point was reached where dramatic change was needed. The longer the road you take, the longer the way back.

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