The Many Bad Ways of Executing AQgile Project Management

  1. A big excuse to sack staff: Large, abrupt, chaotic layoffs are not Agile transformations. Agile does increase productivity— but through systematic process innovations, not blunt-force firings.

2. Do what I say faster: When authoritarians use Agile as one more club to bludgeon people into speedier subservience, they undermine the whole concept. Agile processes consider people before considering processes.

3. Big bang transformations: Too often, executives go behind closed doors for six months, emerge with a grand restructuring plan, command and control its execution, and then claim to have an Agile organization. It’s far better to use Agile testing and learning processes to build Agile organizations.

4. Copy and paste: Copying an Agile pioneer completely goes against the spirit of agility. Being agile means being fluid. When Agile systems work elsewhere and copied and pasted into another organization, a lot may go awry. Moreover, in trying to shortcut the process, copycats fail to develop critical skills for adapting, customizing, and harmonizing all the elements of an operating system.

5. Agile everywhere: Many assume—incorrectly—that to become an agile organization, everyone must work in Agile teams. Typically, about 10% to 20% of employees should be dedicated to Agile innovation teams.

6. Bungling business definitions: Agile zealots often break up business units and replace them with Agile teams. This approach destroys profit-and-loss accountability and damages performance.

7. Delegating Agile: When senior executives fail to exemplify Agile ideals, delegating Agile transitions to program managers and subordinates, business results are consistently disappointing.

8. Annual cycles and slow decisions: No business should design key processes such as planning, budgeting and reviewing cycles around how long it takes Earth to orbit the sun. Agile breaks long cycles into shorter, tighter feedback loops that accelerate adaptation.

9. Inept, inconsistent practices: Too many teams are Agile in name only. Team members multitask, refuse to develop roadmaps, and fail to test prototypes. Then managers wonder why Agile is struggling.

10: Demoralizing operations: Agile teams have noble missions, but so do frontline operators. Operation and innovation are complementary, interdependent, mutually beneficial capabilities.

Our goal is to stop abuses like these before they drive Agile to the scrap heap of management manias.