The agile anti-pattern “Everything needs to be done RIGHT NOW!” Calm down skippy. 

Change. We talk about change in agile. How we should welcome it. How we should adapt to it. Which is right. We should be able to adapt to change, as we are agile. But when does change become too much? When is change not appropriate? Believe it or not, there are times when change is not welcome or appropriate (Here come the hate messages from all the agile warriors). For instance, when the change becomes a completely different priority – every day. 

I have been a part of many distinct types of organizations. Government contracting, IT, software development, military, and business. One of the themes that many organizations have succumbed to is constantly changing priorities. One day it is a long-term project. The next, it’s the newest, trendy thing that they need to get on board with NOW. A few days later it will change to a fire that needs to be put out. The next day it will be back to the original priority but a different aspect. Then of course the good idea fairy comes along and has yet another priority. And then a different priority, and another goal, and back to an old goal, then telling the team they suck, then finding bigfoot, then an aneurysm. Not a preferred method. In the words of Aaron Rodgers “RELAX.” Just to note I am not an Aaron Rodgers fan. So, get off my case Bears fans. 

Why does this happen? Is it a lack of focus? Is it because we did not truly establish a long-term goal in the first place? Is it because of constant pressure from upper management? Does the organization lack confidence in its abilities? It is all the above. Sometimes it is all these things and more all at the same time. 

So, what does this accomplish? How about not getting your product to market in time? It absolutely ruins any type of quality of work. It can frustrate your customers and cause them to lose confidence in you. The most important critical effect? it will frustrate your team, make them lose confidence in their leadership, and start looking elsewhere. They will go home and tell their significant other how ridiculous they are being. I have never done that, but I heard they might. Ok, I totally do. So, what is needed? It is time to have a little conversation. 

As leaders ourselves, it is our job to step up and alert them of the issue and start the conversation of how to avoid and fix the issue. Could the conversation become uncomfortable? Probably. You are telling the “leadership” that what they are doing is not effective. Will they be offended? Possibly. Will they cry? I hope not but in all honesty that would be kind of hilarious, and it’s a story you will have for years to come. Is it still a conversation that is needed? Absolutely. That one conversation and coaching opportunity can save an organization and people’s jobs. Extreme? Not really. When you don’t get products to market, have frustrated employees that leave, and your quality sucks, the pressure starts to rise. Before you know it, the organization can’t function. That one conversation can change the trajectory of an organization. So, PM’s, Scrum Masters, Agile Coaches, or others that are in any kind of leadership role, step up. Have that uncomfortable conversation. Alert them of the problem. Have a coaching session on how to prioritize. There are so many out there. Don’t sit back and watch a train wreck. Sit skippy (or skippies. I don’t think that’s a word) down and work with them. Find that solution. Find that way forward and commit to it. You could save an organization…. or get fired.

Regardless, it’s needed.