Mistake No. 4: Encouraging Organizational Complexity

By Ian Culling  |  Posted 2010-07-08 Print this article Print

Mistake No. 4: Encouraging organizational complexity

The natural inclination when scaling almost anything is to introduce management layers, new policies, additional processes and other unnecessary checkpoints. Not surprisingly, this kind of overhead and complexity typically has an inverse relationship to adoption speed.

In an effort to maintain consistency and control, it is natural to want to add excess management oversight and require unnecessary documentation. Don't do it. Or, at least make every effort to minimize these tendencies. Simplicity is both one of the primary values of and critical success factors for scaling agile. Maintaining a commitment to simplicity when scaling agile processes and practices can drastically accelerate the internal rate of adoption. Adding needless complication is an invitation for failure.

Let the managers closest to the teams guide them toward the goals that have been set. Don't confuse day-to-day project visibility with knowing the rationale for every decision the team makes. Recognizing that teams are achieving positive results overall and understanding what teams can deliver on an incremental basis is a much better use of time. This insight will provide improved forecasting for future projects and allow for much quicker response time to changing business demands.

Ian Culling is CTO at VersionOne. Ian brings more than 20 years of broad IT experience to the CTO role. Ian lends tremendous expertise to his areas of responsibility, including software product management, design and development, and enterprise IT. Ian has significant practical experience with the introduction, scaling and adaptive execution of agile methods, having initially implemented strict XP with a single team in 2000. Since that time, Ian has progressed to lead and coach both small and large organizations in their transition to agile methods. Prior to joining VersionOne, Ian led the adoption of agile methods at Alogent Corporation as vice president of development, leveraging aspects of Scrum for scaling across multiple teams and products. This, combined with select XP developer practices and approach for planning and tracking, resulted in a Scrum-wrapped XP implementation (now a fairly common model within the agile community today). He can be reached at ian.culling@versionone.com.

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