When Agile isn’t agile

Ok, this is a bit random, but it is something that has been on my mind for a while, and as the blog is about my musings, I felt it was time to share it.

The point of being Agile in a development team is to be able to be flexible – hence the name. But there is an irony here where Agile teams are not ‘agile’ if you follow the best practices for Agile teams.

I’ll give you an example – you have a 2 week sprint, the user stories are all written, confirmations added, stories sized etc etc. So you start off the work, and 3 days into the sprint, the business owner comes over and tells you that there is a game changer – either a competitor has done something that your company has to react to, or there has been a budget and the VAT rate has changed, or something similar that means that the team need to be ‘agile’ and respond to. The problem is that by following Agile, you are locked into that 2 week sprint, and the response back is that you’ll do it in the next sprint, which starts in 1 1/2 weeks and delivers 2 weeks after that, so there is a 3 1/2 week delay until your business can respond to whatever event it was that came about.

There is the option to cancel the sprint and start again, but that is disruptive, so the point here is that there is no agility built into the  process to be able to respond.

You can follow Kanban, which I believe can work well when a team is in a ‘maintenance’ mode, as stories that have not been started can be left on hold and others swapped in, however I think a team following Kanban needs a certain level of maturity – but that is for another post!

I’d like to know what your views are on this – do you disrupt a sprint or do you make the business owner wait until the next sprint?


2 thoughts on “When Agile isn’t agile

  1. Matt – you probably can, but I think the issue is around needing to estimate the effort and see if there is a story (or combination of stories) that can be removed from the sprint which everyone agrees on.

    Locking down work actually makes a lot of sense for the team as it provides stability, but it is the one part of Agile that isn’t ‘agile’ for a lot of teams, so it means that Agile is a bit of a misnomer.


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