Agile is all about Responsibility and Motivation

3 min.

Everyone knows that Agile is all about results. The more often you have feedback exchanges the better the results will be. Agile is about harnessing chaos and structuring it, breaking the workload down into sizeable pieces that can be controlled.

But having worked in IT for years, I understand that Agile and Scrum, at the most basic level, is not just about structuring the process but about responsibility, introducing a radical shift in management mentality that happened because of new circumstances in the sphere of IT and in the world.

Spontaneous Management

At the start of any project spontaneous, difficult-to-control management begins, and sometimes it works just fine. Some projects fit into that mold but there are also many problems with project load then – if an IT company wants to do a lot of different projects it cannot guarantee that spontaneous management can always deliver good results. In a project, like in a movie, everything has to work together to produce a certain effect – the project goals, the clients, the IT staff, the managers, the alignment of planets – there are too many variables at play to produce the same result with a new set of variables. If we were a success once we cannot guarantee the same level of excellence with other projects, other people, other clients.

5 Reasons to use Agile

  1. Agile introduces a set of easy-to-understand principles, and when we work according to a set of mutually agreed upon principles, the client and the IT team start speaking the same language. Verbalizing issues and putting labels on everything that’s going on helps make these things clear, and ensure the two parties are talking about the same thing.
  2. In Agile we have standard processes that we can use, therefore making the long project more manageable and transparent. This way we do away with uncertainty and the two parties can understand each other better.
  3. With the help of these practices we can expand our project load and do more projects with more teams that are flexible and fast changing to produce foreseeable results because each stage of the project is controlled.
  4. Because we repeat the same practices in every new project we can really see them work in practice and understand in which situations which technique is best. We have these tangible points of control and we can compare success from project to project. When we have this control to fall back on, we can actually be more creative and experiment a little.
  5. Agile is a set of a small number of practices that can be implemented really fast. We can add techniques as we go along or we can stop using a technique if it doesn’t work.

It's all about Motivation

But then again the advantages I mentioned above aren’t even the whole deal. Scrum and Agile represent an important shift in thinking where the responsibility for the project moves from the manager to the team.

In the classic direct management model, a manager is responsible for the project. When issues arise, the manager is to blame and they often react by blaming the team, using their power in a classic carrot and stick fashion. This method doesn’t guarantee that the team will make any changes or even understand what the issue is. It doesn’t guarantee that anything will change for the better, or that the problem will be solved. The team can simply fall apart.

Using Agile helps the team to feel responsible for the end product and for the results of each stage of development. The manager is no longer the scapegoat in case something goes wrong; but they aren’t crowned as kings when a project is successful either. By implementing Agile, we can identify employees who are passionate and efficient, ready to take on responsibility, and those who are looking for a free ride.

Agile is not about documenting the process or breaking the process down into scalable parts. It’s about changing the mentality of the team and making people motivated to get real results, which ultimately brings the best out of everyone.