Warning! These 6 Pitfalls Will Slow Down Your Organization


You have probably read about “at scale” implementations, activity based offices, globally distributed teams, SAFe, Agile transformations and outsourcing. Beware. Danger can be lurking beneath the surface of these popular phenomena.

1. The Pitfall of Globally Distributed Teams

“When it comes to software development, nothing beats working together at the same location. I get answers to questions quickly and have discussions whenever needed. Skype, Slack and other tools for distributed teamwork are great, but the responsiveness and bandwidth of communication is not like the ones I get if I sit next to a colleague.  In some globally distributed teams, you have to make an appointment just to have a discussion. It’s ridiculous.”

– Max Wenzin, developer, agile coach and Scrum Master at Crisp



2. The Pitfall of Agile Desperation

“The organizational trend of going Agile has created an increasing hunger for Agile teachers, coaches and facilitators. The demand is larger than the supply, so many organizations don’t get the quality support they need. If you bring in Agile consultants with insufficient knowledge and experience, you and your employees are set up for disappointment. I see this happening in organizations outside our large cities, at least in Sweden.”

– Jimmy Janlén, Lean & Agile coach, trainer, and Scrum Master at Crisp



 3. The Pitfall of Outsourcing Customer Service

“If you don’t have direct access to your customers, you won’t be able to lead innovation. You won’t be able to learn what your customers need. Unfortunately, too many organizations focus on cutting costs instead of increasing customer value and innovation.”

– Michael Göthe, Agile organizational coach at Crisp



 4. The Pitfall of “at scale” Obsession

“I don’t believe in the current widespread “at scale” trend. Companies are choosing to implement “at scale” believing it to be a silver bullet solution. Blindly implementing any cure-all solution can be a recipe for disaster. Start with these questions instead: Why do you want to implement “at scale”? What are the problems you are actually trying to solve?”

– Yassal Sundman, team coach, mentor, and developer at Crisp



 5. The Pitfall of Activity-based Offices

“In these activity-based offices, you’ll find employees working at different places throughout the day and week. You will find them in phone booths, small conference rooms, big meeting rooms, cozy sofas or at a desk somewhere. These workplaces may look great on paper, but they are not conducive to teamwork. In all the organizations that I have visited with environments like these, people in Agile projects are struggling. Instead of coming to their desk in the morning, with immediate access to their whiteboards and post-its visualizing progress, the team members need to first find an available desk. What management sometimes fail to realize is that a great team has a vast amount of work context that would get lost without a physical location for the team.”

– Jan Grape, Crisp consultant, agile coach, developer and mentor



6. The pitfall of playing it “safe” with SAFe

“As you might know, SAFe is starting to get popular as a way to work in value streams. This can be a great way to get organizations to work more efficient and more customer centric. However, I believe many organizations who do this in a sort of a Big Bang without having the right Agile mindset in place, will fail miserably in this transformation in the beginning. The problem occurs when business who might not understand what being Agile really means, and instead of working with Agile requirements use SAFe as a way to get control over what’s being delivered and what they have ordered. I have already seen organisations do traditional waterfall requirements, with a set scope, set time for total delivery, and just adding more people to manage to deliver in time – in a big scaled SAFe setup. This will be a huge train going over the cliff. The good ting about it, is that it will at least be fail fast – but totally unnecessary. Some of the things you need to understand to become successful with SAFe (or any Agile setup) you need to have very clear goals targeting the impacts you want, not what the the end solution should be, keep a updated visual on what all teams are working on to get context and slicing ability cross the stream and all teams, keep the agile teams stable over at least six months to get the speed of Agile and you need to give them the possibility to make smart tech and business decisions just in time.”

– Mia Kolmodin, Enterprise Agile Coach at Crisp with Product Management focus