Home > Agile > 3 Upper Management Challenges when adopting Scrum

3 Upper Management Challenges when adopting Scrum

Some challenges that I have encountered as an Agile Coach working in large organisations adopting Scrum and how you could approach such a scenario.

We want to adopt Scrum, but we are not willing to change anything

There is often a belief that brining in Scrum is going to be just a set of new practices for the development team and they can get benefits without changing anything.  I have discovered that it is best to address this one early with the organisations senior team, otherwise they will be wasting their time.  So education is important, a workshop with senior stakeholders usually does it, just getting them thinking what it will mean for the organisation to deliver working software in vertical slices rather than building it in layers, what will it mean for the organisation to have dedicated teams.  These initial workshops help me and the client understand if they are ready for Scrum.

There can be only one

Different change initiatives sponsored by different members of the executive team, this can be particularly painful if you are working with the organisation to move them towards agility, but you discover some other change initiative designed to get control by introducing more management and more structure.  There can be only one change initiative, therefore work to join them up, however if they are in conflict work with upper management to see what is most important for them now, sometimes organisations need to take a step back before they are ready to move forward.  Just make sure they have the information to make the right decision for them. 

The Agile antibody

Sometimes there will be executives who say they are behind Scrum, but behind the scenes they will be fighting a rear guard action to protect their domain, maybe even trying to kill off Scrum inside the organization.  This is not always obvious at first, but it will become so when teams struggle to work with their area of the organisation.  We obviously want them onboard, so an approach I would use here is to try help them understand how they could benefit from a new world using Scrum.  For example the head of testing may be interested to know how in Scrum testing is central to the development process, that they would have much more scope to influence the quality of the products.

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