The Scrum holy grail: how to deliver more, faster, and with less people

July 3, 2023

For some managers that don’t quite understand Agile, the Scrum Framework is often touted as a silver bullet for the business world - a means to deliver more, faster, and with fewer people, all while seamlessly accommodating the ever-changing whims of those in positions of power. 

As Agile evangelists, at Agility Arabia, we're excited by the enthusiasm but cautious about the misconceptions. Today, we aim to debunk these myths and shed light on the true nature of Agile and how it could benefit your organisation.

And if that first paragraph was something that you thought was the case, don’t take it personally! You are one of many people that believe that to be the case.

Allow us to explain in the below article…

Get in touch with us for a free consultation if you would like to explore any of the topics discussed below, or to find out how our enterprise Agile coaches could help your business to deliver faster, better and cheaper.

Myth 1: Agile Guarantees Doing More Work

A common misconception is that adopting Agile means teams will miraculously be able to handle more work. In reality, Agile doesn't magically increase the volume of work a team can handle. Instead, it allows teams to focus on delivering value. The central idea is to work smarter, not harder. By prioritising work based on value and eliminating waste, Agile teams often produce higher quality outcomes, but not necessarily more volume.

Myth 2: Agile Always Means Delivering Faster

While Agile frameworks, like Scrum, emphasise short iterations and continuous delivery, they don't claim to speed up the work itself. Agile enables faster delivery of value by breaking down complex projects into manageable units, prioritising them based on which activities or tasks will result in the highest value, and delivering them incrementally. It promotes learning and adapting quickly, but it doesn't inherently make your team work faster - it makes them work more effectively.

And spoiler alert: it should also be noted that teams that kick-off an Agile transformation will more often than not actually slow down in the early stages. This is normal. And it should be seen as an investment - a cost of transformation, if you like. Because that initial slow down will allow teams to adjust to the new approach to delivering, which will result in faster, more consistent delivery of value in the mid-term. And it’s value that’s truly important to businesses: not the number of tasks a team churns out each working day.

Myth 3: Agile Works With Fewer People

Agile doesn't advocate for reducing team sizes to increase efficiency. Quite the opposite, it emphasises the importance of stable teams where individuals, with their unique skills and perspectives, collaborate closely. The goal is to build a self-managing, cross-functional team that can respond effectively to change. Reducing the team size might limit these capabilities.

Myth 4: Agile Equals Endless Scope Changes

Yes, Agile champions flexibility and responsiveness, but that doesn't mean endless scope changes. Agile encourages adapting to feedback and changing requirements, but it also stresses the importance of sustainable development. Changes are managed and prioritised through the Product Backlog, and any change that disrupts the team's focus within a Sprint is generally discouraged.

So it is one thing that we at Agility Arabia insist on: leaders should respect the Sprint. It’s totally OK to change the team’s focus whenever emerging priorities appear. But this should be done via the Product Owner, who is accountable for maximising the value of the Scrum Team for the organisation. The current Sprint Goal needs to be protected so teams can maintain focus. Only if a Sprint Goal has been deemed to have become obsolete should the Product Owner request that the sprint be stopped and changed. 

Agile: A Powerful Tool, Not a Silver Bullet

It's essential to remember that Agile is not a silver bullet. It doesn't promise to increase your team's capacity, speed up their work, allow for infinite scope changes, or enable you to achieve the same results with fewer people. What Agile does offer is a powerful framework for delivering value to customers effectively, improving team collaboration, and responding to change more efficiently.

How You Can Use Scrum to Achieve Your Business Goals

Misconceptions about Agile can lead to unrealistic expectations and disappointing outcomes. However, when understood and implemented correctly, Agile can unlock significant improvements in productivity, customer satisfaction, and team morale.

Interested in learning more about what Agile can truly offer your organisation? Let's have a conversation. Contact Agility Arabia for a free 30-minute initial consultation. During this time, we'll discuss your unique needs and challenges and explore how we can guide you on your Agile journey. 

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