Breaking Down The 8 Myths Of An Agile Way of Working!

The Myths of An Agile Way of Work

What is Agile? How does it work, and what is the impact on the way that you work? And what are the common myths? There is a lot of confusion around it all. I am not going to lie – I am not a rock star at the process. But fortunately, we have quite a few legends in this space that help guide the way we work!

Dean Button, who runs the Teraflow PMO office, is a true Agile Expert. Agile is key to how we work at reflow, and I asked Dean to tell me what these key Agile myths are. I wanted to know where it’s easy to go wrong and where the confusion comes in!

Fortunately, Dean has done tons of training in this area (yep – even with quite a few of our clients – but don’t tell!). He gave me eight myths that we need to be aware of.

To make this easy to read through, I asked Yuni – our design legend, to put them into a graphic format so that you can get a sense of what they are.

So let’s break down the eight myths …

1. Agile is Methodology

No – Agile is a mindset rather than a methodology. There are a set of values and principles behind the idea.

Here is how Dean Described it to me:

A methodology will describe a step-by-step process of how to do things or how to achieve a goal. In this sense, Agile is not a methodology.

It is a mindset, a philosophy that describes a set of values and principles coined in the Agile Manifesto.

2. Agile equals Scrum

It’s easy to get lost in the world of Scrum and think you’re rocking the agile world. In fact, I have CEO’s run kanban boards with no underlying change to how they work. This is not agile. A pig with lipstick on – is – well, still a pig :).

Here is how Dean Described it to me:

Scrum is a framework, while Agile is a mindset. This approach follows a set of values and principles that many other Agile methods have adopted, such as Kanban, SAFe and XP.

3. Agile means no planning

There is no fast, loose, fancy-free way of working in an agile world where people get away with hacking it, kinda faking it till they make stuff! There is always a plan!

Here is how Dean Described it to me:

The important aspect of Agile planning is that it’s iterative – you develop and adjust your plan multiple times, as you find necessary.

The goal is to invest time planning at the best possible moment and adjust to changes easily if they occur during the execution phase.

4. Work must fit in a sprint

This one blew my mind a bit. The scope is variable, while time and budget are fixed. And here I was, always working on tighter scoping for better planning and financial accountability.

Here is how Dean Described it to me:

By having historical data for our flow cycle time, we can relatively accurately predict when a given task will be finished.

But what happens if you try to fit your work at all costs in a Sprint, even when the capacity of your team is already depleted?

5. Employees have free-reign

This is like, what’s the plan, Stan? Let’s just go with the flow and hope for the best. Nope. Nothing as loose as that, here.

This is how Dean Described it to me:

Employees don’t get to do whatever they like. Actually, it’s the opposite – Agile needs well-disciplined, self-organising teams.

6.Project with deadlines

Tasks change based on previous outcomes. Yes, the target remains the same, but how you get there gets redefined. Like any journey, there are several ways you can get to your destination. It’s about working out the best one that gets you there and not making one sacred above the rest!

Here is how Dean Described it to me:

The confusion comes from the fact that you don’t have to put deadlines on every task related to a given project.

The project deadline is fixed. Each task is adaptable as it is required to complete the project because Agile is iterative.

7. Agile equals Software Development

Our marketing works in an agile way. HR is the same. We are always planning g how do we scale things when we have 200 staff. It helps put things into perspective.

Here is how Dean Described it to me:

While the Agile Manifesto describes Agile in the context of software development, because it is a mindset, it can be applied successfully in any business environment.

Reconciling an Agile squad within a non-Agile organisation takes some skill, however.

8. Agile and Success

Changing peoples way of working can be brutal when you have an existing way of doing it. Culture is the subtle forces built through habits that have silently take hold!

Here is how Dean Described it to me:

It’s not uncommon to hear that your organisation problems come from you not using Agile.

Unfortunately, Agile is not the silver bullet to success. You can fail with Agile as you can fail by using any other traditional project management approach.

By using Agile, you will fail faster because of the visibility and transparency it brings.

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Michael Cowen
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Michael Cowen

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Michael Cowen is the CEO of teraflow.ai and co-hosts the Making AI Podcast. Michael is the Ex Deloitte Digital Director and Mindshare Digital Partner. He focuses on the way business models and culture shift and change to change the way people that they work in an AI-enabled organisation.

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