The fine line between the fundamental and the non-fundamental in an Agile transformation.

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The fine line between the fundamental and the non-fundamental in an Agile transformation.

Tennis is quite a versatile sport, just to give you an idea about the fine line between the fundamental and the non-fundamental in an Agile transformation.

Basketball in the grass

Suppose an organization that plays tennis hires you because it wants to play basketball; and sure, you say yes, because basketball is your specialty and you’re absolutely convinced that this is the game that is going to be played. For this, you need two teams, each with five players, a ball, a court with technical specifications, and the baskets, however, to your surprise, they ask you to include the rackets, that you only reduce the teams from 5 players to two and that instead of baskets you use a net.


You might wonder that perhaps what this organization simply wants is to continue in the same line of ideas it has been working with and that the best thing you should do is abandon the project or initiative altogether.


Giving up is most certainly an enticing option. But hold on, what if, before making this decision, we look for some fascinating alternatives? When incorporating ways of thinking, methods, and tools or agile frameworks such as Scrum or Kanban, the better approach is to take notice on the request to play a whole new game under a whole new set of rules and regulations. 

We prefer clarity

Some organizations may take a liking to it, whereas others end up believing that this is not what they need at all. Some organizations might be open for change, and yet, lack the understanding or resources to adapt arguing: the court is not in the best of shape and the ball is a bit worn out. As long as that underlying structure of rules remains intact it wouldn’t be all that bad to try it out. We would not be accomplishing it all. However, we just might be approaching a new and better way of working without giving up the fundamentals. The same goes for the concept of transformations.

There is a fine line between what is fundamental and what is not, and it is necessary to keep this in mind at all times. For instance, to do Scrum, we must have the five crucial Events: sprint, planning, daily, retro, and review, alongside their three roles: Scrum master, developers, and product owner, therefore, basing ourselves on the three pillars: transparency, inspection, and adaptation.


However the question now might be, what if the scrum master can only dedicate 10% of his time, and the team can only run the dailies every eight days, should we still be motivated to give it a try? Under my own concept, we should not. Honestly, if a scrum master cannot place at least 40% of his time dedicated to an agile team, his or her job will most certainly be jeopardized, along with his well-being, as a result.


To sum up, we can help organizations in their agile transformations, being clear from the start about what is fundamental and not, in other words, being clear about what we can negotiate and what we cannot.


So please support me in the vision of what is fundamental! What aspects do you consider essential and non-negotiable in Scrum?  Kanban?  Agility? and Lean?

Many thanks to Lucho Salazar for his inspiring dialogues, as well as, the construction of this article.


Credit for photography

Playing on a Floating Court in the Gulf of Doha, 2011 – Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer

Taken from @fubiz

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Juan Andrés Ochoa

Juan Andrés Ochoa

Más de 10 años usando marcos ágiles. Acompañamiento en más de 100 iniciativas o proyectos. Certificado en Safe Scaled Agile. Scrum Master PSM I Certified. Hago Yoga, medito, leo y navego. Me gustan los buenos rones, amigos y conversaciones.  Orgulloso hijo, esposo y padre. Intento hacer de este un mundo mejor.

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