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Agile in Name Only

Last minute travel plans had me looking for a way to get some dry cleaning done with faster turnaround than what my local dry cleaner could provide. We had to go to Joplin for a few hours before heading to Kansas City to catch our flight. A quick search showed there was a “1 Hour Dry Cleaners” in Joplin, so I figured I could drop my clothes off with them and pick them up as we headed out of town. On our way I gave them a call. The conversation went something like this:

1HDC: Hello, this is 1 Hour Dry Cleaners.
Mark: I’ve got some clothes I need to get cleaned quickly. Which location should I take them to?
1HDC: It doesn’t matter.
Mark: Ok so if I drop them off around 8 I can pick them up a bit after 9.
1HDC: They probably won’t be done. But I guess we could mark them as “expedite.”
Mark: Ok I just need them before we leave town, so if I drop them off at 8 and you mark them as expedite, will they be done by noon?
1HDC: Well even with “expedite” we probably won’t have them done that fast.
Mark: I’m sorry who did I call?
1HDC: This is 1 Hour Dry Cleaners in Joplin.
Mark: … ok…
1HDC: Oh, but that is just our name. It isn’t what we do.

I see a lot of “Agile teams” that suffer from the same problem. You aren’t Agile because you call yourself that name. Ceremonies don’t make you Agile either. A team isn’t Agile just because you have a daily standup or retrospectives. You have an Agile team if you are able to deliver usable code on a regular basis and welcome changing requirements. You have an Agile team if you prioritize face to face communication and the team has a lot of latitude to self-organize.

Teams that are Agile in name only are just like the 1 Hour Dry Cleaner in Joplin that doesn’t do dry cleaning in an hour. No matter how great your name, it is the execution that matters.

(photo credit)

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Mark Shead

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