Uh Oh, the Honeymoon is Over

zombieland_stillsm“Wait a minute, I thought we were Agile?  What aren’t things better and why do we have more problems now?”

What happens after the honeymoon is over?  Going from blank walls and cubes to a lots of stuff on the walls and a nice wide open space and should have made a difference by now shouldn’t it have?

There’s a lot of noise on Linked In, Google Groups and twitter (to name a few) that all seem to try and find fault in a person, team, organization or practice because the results aren’t matching the rhetoric.    So we’ve been at this Agile thing for a while, we found a shitload of problems, came up with a plan to fix them, didn’t see results right away because we chose to not prioritize actually fixing these problems, blamed the methodology and decided to go back to the old way of just ignoring said problems.  Voila!

I remember that fantastic exciting and new feeling when I first met my wife some 15 years ago.  It was fun.  New.  Exciting.  Fast forward to marriage and kids and after the honeymoon was over life got hard and complex.  It takes work to manage our house and family.  Real work.  Any problems we have are our problems and if we chose to ignore them, we suffer the consequences.

According to these stats, 1 out of 2 marriages in the US and Canada fail.  Why is that and what does it have to do with Agile?  Plenty.  When stuff gets hard, we as humans give up.   This Business Week article talks about 5 reasons why we tend to give up on our goals.

  • Ownership: thinking “I’ll give this a try and see what happens” instead of thinking “this will work only if I make it work”
  • Time: holy cow, I didn’t think it’d take this long, is it worth it?
  • Difficulty: This is waaaaay harder than I thought!
  • Distraction: Sorry, can’t work on my goal, have a bunch of other stuff to do.
  • Maintenance: ah, good enough….I don’t have to keep working at it do I?

Adopting Agile is no different than any change in a company.  It’s a change.  A big change.  A really big change and change is hard.  All the mental models, coaching models, change models, methodologies and such are fine and dandy but sometimes you just need good old fashioned gumption.

Sometimes it’s time to nut-up or shut up.