Need for the Right person to drive Agile Adoption

The following comment comes from one of our regular contributors, Venkatesh Krishnamurthy.

It is very important to identify the right person to drive Agile adoption in an organization, rather than randomly choosing some senior person to drive it.

The reason being, Agile is all about

  • People
  • Being Flexible
  • Being Patient
  • Open to new ideas
  • Learning

Recently in one of the stories I heard, the CEO of a company who had been hearing a lot about Agile, decided to adopt Agile in his organization.   He decided to form an Agile Research Group to drive Agile adoption in the organization.  He choose one of the most senior Vice Presidents (VP) to drive this initiative.  He in turn choose some senior and mid-level managers to start gathering info.

Just like any company, the Agile core team started meeting weekly.  They started an Agile discussion forum and started gathering as much information as possible.

After a month of starting this Agile group, the core team submitted their findings to this Vice president.  After few days the VP called the core team for a meeting and the team couldn’t  believe what they heard from the VP.

Cutting a long story short, the VP didn’t believe that there existed concepts like Iteration, Daily Stand up meetings, self organizing team, Iterative and Incremental development approaches.  He didn’t believe the reports submitted by the core team.  In this situation, the VP himself became hindrance to the Agile adoption.

This may not be the case in all the organizations, and it could be a “one off”, however it is very important to choose the right person for any new initiative – especially when it comes to Agile adoption.

In another case study, the CEO of the company appointed a senior person from the Quality group to drive Agile adoption.  This Quality group head was coming from a strong CMM and Waterfall background.  The team assigned to try Agile on a sample project used to read books, attend trainings and try the practices on their projects.
Many a times this Agile group failed in implementing the practices, but each time they failed the senior person driving Agile, used to tell them “I told you Agile won’t work’ or used similar kinds of statements.
Such statements discourage the team.  One has to remember that, It is normal that the team might fail while implementing new practices, and in such situations “Patience” is the key.

I believe that the following attributes should be expected from a person driving Agile

1. Good understanding and knowledge of Agile
2. Be open to new ideas
3. If the team fails somewhere, analyze the situation and encourage them rather than pushing them down
4. Trust the people around him/her
5. Patience
6. Persistence

Remember that  the wrong person in the right place could not only become a bottleneck for Agile adoption but also could lead to failure of the implementation of Agile.

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