I have had the opportunity to meet with a number of IT leaders in that last couple of years to discuss with them the adoption of agile practices in their organizations. In all of the meetings I have had I do not remember a time when someone actually overtly disagreed with the concepts of agile and particularly scrum. They have, however, questioned whether agile would work within their particular organization. Agile’s perceived lack of documentation and defined/written processes, simple framework and seemingly ad hoc approach to development have all been cited as going against the grain of their typical organizational practices.
This has made me wonder over the years if agile and particularly scrum is too simple. Is scrum’s perceived lack of rigor an obstacle to adoption by most large companies? Is the simplicity of agile, which makes it such a malleable framework to accommodate change, actually a barrier to adoption?
Many of us older IT practitioners were schooled in practices that had rigorous processes, extensive documentation, detailed quality audits and excessive measurements that have predispositioned us to believe that only complex methodologies will lead to success. It sometimes seemed, in the old days, that the more detailed a methodology, the more trusted and respected it became. I also wonder if in fact IT practitioners created an entire industry around complexity. Let’s face it, the more esoteric the domain, the greater the level of job security for those within the confines of that domain.
So now we are introducing simplicity, perhaps simple enough that “even a caveman can do it.” (I am not suggesting that adopting agile is easy, only that it provides a relatively simple framework that is easy to understand). Is this message a threat to traditionalists? Is the real barrier to adoption one that stems from individual and organizational self preservation? Have we become too comfortable in our minutia that we are unwilling and unable to accept and try alternatives?
As always, I welcome your thoughts and comments.