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Success with Agile and Kanban

blog-140702-team-adaptabilityAdaptability and experience are key to success with Agile and Kanban, there's no getting around this. In a survey carried out by Intland Software among experts, the following question was asked:

How much depends on team experience and adaptability in achieving efficiency and higher productivity with Scrum or Kanban?

One commenter suggested that the question is tackled in two parts:

  1. Does experience and adaptability play a greater role in Scrum or Kanban?
  2. What roles do experience and adaptability play in being successful (highly productive) when using Scrum, Kanban, or Agile practices in general?

After considering the comments received, we came to the following conclusions:

  1. The main goal of Scrum and Kanban is not to improve productivity directly, but rather to help indirectly by improving team motivation and collaboration. This results in greater productivity and higher product quality.
  2. Experience and working knowledge of Scrum and Kanban makes the process of adaptation easier but it does not necessarily mean its adoption will be a success. Adoption is far easier with an experienced team that has good working knowledge of Scrum & Kanban. Theory is not enough for success, working practice is necessary. A new, Agile mindset must be adopted by team leaders and team members alike, and that requires at least some training for success.
  3. The attitude of teammates is more important a factor than experience and the learning of methods used. Leaders have to be open to Agile and lean thinking. That is more important than the length of his/her experience or technical skills.
  4. Your team, organizational structure, and maturity level strongly influences results. Support and engagement from management are key success factors. Know what the goals are, and understand how Agility can help you realize those goals. In order for Agile to really increase productivity and efficiency, your team will need to build out the necessary skills and experience – either by maturity (which takes time), or by bringing in new and experienced people and letting them take over training.
  5. Learning, changing, evolving, and practicing are the key elements needed for success in applying Agile methods. If everyone is trained in Scrum or Kanban then they are likely to be more comfortable with the chosen method, but that choice is based on familiarity rather than business needs. Learning and training are important factors, but a team’s adaptability depends on their openness and adaptable mindset. Start practicing and improving processes in Kanban or Sprint by Sprint with Scrum.

Overall, the success or failure of Scrum or Kanban teams depends much more on culture and an open and adaptable mindset than on the use of best practices or certain specific tools. Scrum and Kanban can deliver value to the organization, but business requirements must be analysed carefully in advance, with and the human factor has to be considered. Training and helping your team understand Agile principles can contribute to the success of an Agile transformation . Check out our infographics about what kind of benefits Agile methods can bring in this blog post.