If Acme Enterprises were to decide to become more lean and agile, they could adopt DSDM Atern, Scrum, Lean, Six Sigma, Kanban, XP, or a combination of any of them.
But when someone decides that this change initiative needs to fit into the corporate identity and ‘brand’, “Acme Agile” is born. They create a new logo, intranet pages, a team of people dedicated to train everyone in “Acme Agile”, and another team of people to provide Quality Assurance that Acme Agile is being practiced ‘properly’. A new glossary of terms is now in use, a confusing mix of terms from all the agile disciplines.
After a few years, it has become just another bloated process-driven initiative like the others that have failed many times before at Acme. It fails because the people who most need to believe in it have no faith in corporate change any more. It has been Acme-this and Acme-that for years and nothing has ever been really successful. Why should this one? It fails because the company have no-one who knows Acme Agile well enough to train people in it. And any outside experts in Atern or Scrum need to learn the Acme Agile vocabulary in order to create bespoke training courses.
When, inevitably, the trend swings to decentralisation, all the process-geeks who worked across the whole organisation to introduce Acme Agile are made redundant, and the entire initiative fails yet again.
People, if you want to introduce Atern, and it is right for your organisation, introduce Atern – or whatever – and all that comes with it. There are trainers and courses already out there, you don’t have to change it. If you want some XP to go with that, fine. The vocabularies of the two disciplines are not entirely incompatible.
And – this is the key – people are more likely to believe and practice something that other companies are doing. Going it alone is not always the best way.
That doesn’t mean that the method, the disciplines and practices cannot evolve. They can and should. But large-scale change requires that people believe in it. Change that is imposed rarely works. Change that comes from within and grows organically has a chance, provided that it is supported. But that is a subject for another post entirely.