When overcoming obstacles during the course of an Agile adoption the words "they're never gonna get it" can become a common phrase. These words are typically uttered in reference to the organization's executives that some people feel aren't fully capturing the essence of the Agile mindset. For instance, an Agile project a few years back was severely behind schedule. The executives decided to cancel sprint reviews and sprint retrospectives so that the teams could spend more time coding. This simple act just ending up delaying the project even further causing much frustration.
Is it true that some (not all) executives don't get Agile. But to be fair, can honestly expect them to? Afterall, it's not like they're actually doing Agile on a daily basis. They're not coding, or testing, or writing user stories. And if we're really honest with ourselves, sometimes we confuse them even more. When they ask what Agile is all about we sometimes provide very vague responses like "it's whatever you want it to be" (Dan North XP2016).
So does that mean executives are doomed and they'll always hinder an Agile adoption? Not necessarily. Here are some things that can help:
-Encourage them to attend Agile training/conferences. It's amazing what happens at the completion of many Agile courses. So many people say "I wish my boss was here". And if the travel budget is non-existent you can always look to bring on in-house training.
-Encourage them to start practicing Agile. There is no reason why executives can't incorporate daily standups in their existing day to day activities. They may even start to incorporate Scrum Masters and Product Owners.
-Display information radiators such as an Impediments List where executives can see it (preferably in a place where they have to walk by it several times a day). Essentially, have each Scrum team record a list of organizational impediments for all to see. Over time there will be some overlap between the lists. When executives see this they'll most likely want to do something about it.