Impediment Number One to Agile Adoption

Scrum is in many respects very different from traditional project management approaches, especially waterfall models. It requires a different mindset in which it is ok to say:

“I don’t know yet exactly how long the project is going take, but give me some time to get to know the requirements and the team. After some Sprints we will give you a solid estimation based on empirical knowledge. Trust us, we do the best we can to deliver quality on time”.

For many especially “classic-minded” project managers such a statement is unimaginable. They simply can’t understand the culture of Scrum as it is very different from what they are used to.
After applying Scrum in several projects over the last years and after giving many Scrum workshops I think that the only way of learning Scrum is by doing it, ideally accompanied by a skilled coach. Books and certifications help, but they do not create deep understanding.
And here begins the dilemma. Especially managers in larger organisations never work on projects, they manage. Therefore it is hard for them to leave their classic mindset. This leads to non-supportive behavior which often blocks the way to agile adoption in large enterprises. In a recent interview Scrum in larger organisations Jeff Sutherland describes the challenges to change the management mindset.

He says:
“… major challenges you will have to deal with when you implement Scrum in a large organization is to change the mindset in the organization in general and on management-level in particular …”

For the reasons given above this nut is hard to crack. To me it seems that this is impediment number one on the way to agile adoption in larger enterprises.

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