Have business people turned Agile into games? 

 February 2, 2022

By  Anthony Amos

On Reddit, a user asked why managers turn Agile into a game to avoid the work.
Agile games

The only accomplishment in telling management that they are wrong is that you’ve provoked defensiveness. And you’ve changed nothing.”

Tony Amos

Sadly, you were trapped in that corporate vortex where reality is as scrambled as a locked 70’s cable channel. When leadership gives directions this contradictory, you will only frustrate yourself by trying to convince them of how wrong they are. Sure, you are probably right, but who cares? They have the power. The only accomplishment in telling management that they are wrong is that you’ve provoked defensiveness. And you’ve changed nothing.

I would suggest a more productive approach than telling management that they are wrong: Practice the Agile principles that you advocate — starting with focusing on what is within your control. Agility promotes adapting to outside changes while controlling internal activities.

If you’re familiar with the concept of an MVP (Minimally Viable Product), you’ll see that you can treat Agile practices (i.e. Scrum, Kanban,  and others), as an internal MVP. Take Scrum for example. Whether you are working alone or with a team, what really stops you from practicing the Daily Stand-Up? Can’t you define your own Sprints and do Sprint Planning? Can’t you can refine your own practices by running your own Retrospective? Management doesn’t dictate every aspect of your time. How much of your time can you use to make yourself or your team more productive and reliable?

The MVP approach allows you to experiment with different parts of Scrum, and then you add to your practices as you become more productive — assuming you have the discipline necessary to be truly Agile. That is what you want, right?

Focus on what is within your control and build from there. Use the principles listed in the Agile Manifesto to empower yourself rather than complain about management’s lack of understanding. Nowhere does Agile say that you have to be 100% perfect on day one. Just decide on the first step and take it. That is in your control, not management’s.

Read more about managing Agile Teams here.

Anthony Amos

Anthony started creating software in 1981 when he curiously picked up the programming manual for a Wang OIS Word Processor while deployed with the US Navy. He had never seen a computer before, but he taught himself how to write programs that made his Navy work easier and more accurate.
After his honorable discharge in 1986, he began creating financial and analytical software for diverse organizations including Verizon Wireless, JP Morgan Asset Management, GoldenTree Asset Management, NASDAQ, Prudential Insurance, AT&T Capital Corporation, Lehman Brothers, Ernst & Young, and Blue Cross & Blue Shield of New Jersey.

Demonstrating his commitment to the principles and values of Agile Software Engineering, Anthony is a recognized SAFe® version 5 Program Consultant and holds many of the most challenging and difficult to attain Agile certifications. His practice is grounded in Agile Frameworks as he leads clients to implement Scrum, Kanban, Scrum with Kanban, Scaled Scrum with Nexus, and Scaled Agile Framework. He believes in using the framework that best fits the organization's cultural and business direction while maintaining disciplined processes.

Tony Amos

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