Agile series: The success factors

virtualization-benefits-4-success-factors-300x179Yes managers, this is it. In the past, team members trusted the decisions of their manager and followed him/her religiously. But now, with Agile approaches, it is the manager who has to accept the decisions of the team. It is the manager who has to trust the team members and allow them as many liberties and decision-making powers as possible. In order to really become successful through the implementation of an Agile approach, company-wide commitment is essential. The implementation usually requires a culture conversion or at least a culture adaptation. For example, it’s very common for people who are not able to work in an Agile environment to leave the company; then these persons have to be replaced by new people; and every time a member joins the team, he /she needs to adapt to the new work culture.

A lot also depends on the commitment and collaboration within the team members. Success can only be achieved if the members truly act as “one team.” This means that they should not work in  silos of designers, programmers, tester and users, but should all work closely together. Furthermore, all development processes need to be integrated. Meaning, there should be no disconnected development and test processes, but completely integrated and simultaneous design, programming and test activities. This integration applies to all the team members and activities. Someone with a programming role needs to be willing to take on other types of activities, such as test automation activities or helping the product owner to create the user stories. Of course, all these depend on the knowledge and skills of the person in question. In general, each team member is expected to cover one discipline excellently and should be prepared to learn a second or a third in addition to his/her core area of expertise. The members of an Agile team need to have multidisciplinary skills.

As indicated in the above paragraphs, the implementation of an Agile approach does seem to be a big
process. Many organizations do struggle with that and even make a mess out of it. One of the key reasons is, the resistance to change within the team. The true ‘key’ success factor is, therefore, to ensure proper guidance during the implementation of an Agile approach, by involving a change manager or a scrum coach.

The implementation of an Agile approach is a learning trajectory, which means you learn by falling
down and picking yourself up again. Some implementations are a quick success while others
take longer. It is important to learn from each mistake and make sure these are improved or
corrected in the subsequent iterations. So, don’t give up to easily and don’t be afraid to make a mistake, because we “fail to succeed”!

Leo van der Aalst


Leo has over thirty years of IT- experience in waterfall, hybrid and agile environments, especially in environments such as agile, scrum (since 2005), DevOps, SAFe and Spotify. As an agile coach, Leo has provided training and workshops to more than 350 agile teams in the Netherlands and abroad and as a change manager he has guided organizations in the transition to working agile. In addition, he is a much sought-after speaker and trainer, and co-author of five books on software quality.

More on Leo van der Aalst.

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