The Resistance

Thinking back to my first agile experiences, it seems like the technique of becoming more Agile – in our case, learning Scrum, was relatively straightforward. In fact what seemed more challenging was accepting the simplicity of the whole thing. Actually, for me personally, it was accepting the change. Like so many others I’ve met since, I was sure it wasn’t going to work because it didn’t take into account the complexity of what we were doing.

I was wrong. It ended up working quite well, despite my certainty that this was more of a kids’ toy than a serious value management tool.

Because of this experience I’m definitely more sensitive to the reflex reaction that others have to moving from waterfall delivery to something new. But I’m surprised at how, despite the ocean of experience, almost 10 years later, the ubiquity of Agile and lean delivery, it is still a shock to the system for most companies, executives and teams.

The resistance is as strong as it ever was. That’s because fear is a mighty opponent. Whether it hits your shores now or in 10 years, change from the safety and certainty – rather, the illusion of safety and certainty – can be terrifying. In fact, the resistance is so strong and passionate that it has moved my ‘greener’ colleagues to blows, to tears, and to quit.

After all this time, I feel like I get it. Handling the resistance is the job. Agile and its associated processes ARE easy to learn. What is difficult, and what constitutes the heavy lifting of the coaching/leader job, is managing the fear. The knee jerk reaction. So learn to love it; because its not going anywhere. Show resolve and confidence through the struggle – you will need both in order to stick to your Agile principles and practices. Stick with them long enough to be able to SHOW the results. Make yourself accountable for success when everyone else is so certain of failure.

And soon enough, the Resistance begins to dissolve. Always does.

Listen to the full episode here.

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