Socialize, don’t evangelize

Proponents of agile, in my experience, can be quite passionate, and it can be argued that their infectious enthusiasm is what is making agile so "hot" these days. These agile evangelicals have spread practices, and an ethos, that have made a lot of developers' lives a lot happier, and bless them for it.

I was just reading Robert Dempsey's report on a Rally Software webinar called Agile in Turbulent Times, in which he listed the key takeaways from an experience report on HomeAway's path to agile adoption. One of their big lessons learned was: "Socialize, don't evangelize."

I take it this means not that evangelism is bad, but that it isn't enough. It isn't enough to obtain buy-in at the start of the adoption process, or to hold a two or three day training and walk away; people new to agile need resources and context to assist in making what amounts to a huge cultural change. Just the other day at the SD Forum's Egineering Leadership Sig's monthly event, I had a conversation with an obviously brilliant young software architect who said he didn't like his first brush with agile one bit. When I asked why, he cited the pain of "the hour-long meetings every morning." Yikes! Hopefully these weren't stand-up meetings. That's as good an example I can think of to illustrate how poor socialization around agile practices can lead companies, teams and individuals to reject agile like a bad kidney.

Too many agile adopters slide into what I will call the Romantic Comedy Model–they fall in love with agile, and then expect to live happily ever after just like that. It's useful to remember that doing agile well is no less a challenge that building and sustaining a good marriage.

The rest of the gleanings from HomeAway's experience are just as interesting, and the whole post is well worth a read.

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