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A couple of weeks ago I was having a coffee with Grant Symons of Better Change. We were talking about Agile, change and leadership. A few days later I got an email from Grant asking if I could come up with a list of common problems faced by organisations adopting Agile. Below is the list I came up with.

These problems are culled from my observations of organisations that are committed to Agile and are doing a good job at a team level.

  1. A desire to revert back to old ways of working. After a period of success with Agile some organisations move back to more of a waterfall model. This is driven by a desire for improvement, and the promises of waterfall are very attractive. The organisation has forgotten that waterfall didn't work for them.

  2. Difficulty scaling Agile beyond 1 to 2 teams to include the whole organisation. Organisations often run trial Agile projects to ascertain if it will work for them and encounter issues when they then try to scale up through the whole organisation.

  3. Increasingly complex and disruptive dependencies between teams.

  4. Lack of consistency in design, branding and user experience. Getting the benefit of decentralised decision making while still being consistent takes restraint, trust and respect.

  5. Problems in the interface between the Agile teams and the non-Agile teams. This is often an area for friction and can be difficult to manage and resolve.

  6. Lack of or difficulty with long-term planning. Organisations often don't have the tools and techniques to do longer term planning in an Agile environment.

  7. Difficulties with performance management, bonuses and other HR-related issues. Solely rewarding individual performance has undesired effects.

  8. Lack of automation in testing and deployment creates a bottleneck for teams.

  9. Knowledge/skill concentrated in individuals. This is especially prevalent with legacy systems, but can occur where organisations are arranged in silos around products.

  10. Difficulty working with contract organisations, teams and individuals. While the organisation's commitment to Agile has meant that the internal staff have the knowledge, skills and commitment to be effecitve, the contract staff is likely to be undertrained/under-committed to Agile.

  11. Processes for induction of new employees needs to keep pace with the Agile adoption. New tools and techniques are needed.

  12. It's difficult to get experienced Agile practitioners in the market at all levels but especially at the executive level.

What have you experienced in your organisation? What would you add to the list?