Agile won't Work: Implementing Agility in Non-Standard Teams

Level: Practicing

When most people think of the phrase “Agile won’t work here” they think of resistance to adopting agile. There are teams and situations, however, that are truly challenging even to the most dedicated agile adherents. During this sharing experience, I plan to take you on a “cook’s tour” of a dozen or so teams that had difficulty adopting agile, even after the team was sold on the benefits. Filled with humorous stories, how these teams succeed (or failed) is an object lesson for us all.


This presentation will consist of three brief (5-7 minutes) mini-presentations followed by directed Q&A with members of the audience. Each presentation will cover one of the learning outcomes.

Intro/Talk 1: Teams that Teach. The team that couldn’t do tactics. Emphasis is on organizing vague executive goals and conflicting organizational needs. Also strategy teams, organizational change teams, and morale improvement teams.

Talk 2: Teams in the Middle. The team that just did design. Building agility in the middle of a waterfall. Also teams with heavy offshoring, release teams, performance testing teams.

Talk 3: Factories. The team that installed hardware. Thinking agile in teams with fixed processes and backlogs. Also QA teams, medical teams, and aviation teams.

Close: Questions to ask when starting an unusual project. Strategies to use. [This could optionally run to 90 minutes due to the number of stories I’d like to tell]

Learning outcomes
  • Strategies for applying agile in unusual circumstances
  • Real-world examples of techniques that teams use to overcome anti-agile environment obstacles
  • Questions to ask your team when starting a non-traditional project
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