During a recent internal stakeholder meeting, our leadership team brought up the challenge of dealing with changing the working model for a technology project and how we experienced it in our team(s). Since we are (one of) the first teams in our company that have adopted the agile scrum model, it’s often all eyes on us to try and determine whether it is something that should be rolled out to other projects and teams within the company.
While it is easily communicated, documented and supported with facts how working agile has improved out productivity and product quality, it is not so easy to also share the process and the challenge of managing change. Changing from waterfall to agile is not just simply a change in the way we do things day-to-day, more like a huge fundamental upheaval of everything we do and the ways in which we do it.
For myself – and I assume everyone else in my extended team – it was a very big adjustment. Working agile is an approach so completely different, that it was almost like starting a new job, rather than just adapting how we work. During our change process, this was more often than not accompanied by feelings of uncertainty, sometimes confusion and frustration along with it. More importantly, it was more than just a little difficult to suddenly have to work so closely together within our scrum teams. With everyone feeling a little uneasy and overwhelmed by it all in the beginning, it didn’t exactly create the best atmosphere for productive team work. Moving from a process that is known, that I was good at, that I thought I had mastered, to this new thing called agile was a big deal!
Luckily, in my organisation, we had a lot of support. We had consultants who helped us learn the process and apply the methodologies in our project. And honestly, without them and their constant push to keep going and keep looking towards the benefits, I think a lot of us would have cracked and revolted to get back our nice, comfortable waterfall approach. Especially in the early days, when we were working through our very first agile release, it really isn’t all that obvious upfront, that agile really does improve the project, not just the output, but the day-to-day working within. For anyone wanting to implement agile in their organisation, the one thing that I would say you simply have to do, is get an expert in to help you, not just to explain the process, but have a “cheerleader” there to support, guide and motivate your team to keep at it during the tough times at the start.
Now, a few releases later, I can clearly see how working agile is benefiting us, both in terms of project output, as well as enjoying the daily interactions within and across our scrum teams, getting to know the colleagues specializing in their respective disciplines and gaining a much better insight into how we can collaborate and help each other achieve our goals.
I am pretty confident in saying that most of us have converted to agile scrum. We learnt it. We do it. We like it. Change is good.