Feb 5, 2010

Ikiru and why some lean-agile projects fail

Many years ago when I was in college I had the opportunity to see the movie Ikiru (生きる) by Akira Kurozawa. As a nice way to finish my work week, I just finished watched it again while having dinner. The story is around an elderly man, Watanebe-san, who is a public office head of department who is diagnosed with terminal cancer. He immediately starts a desperate hunt to recover the 30 years he spend doing nothing as a public official, and after much soul searching he decides to help build a public park at a low income neighborhood. The park is finished shortly before his death, whose cause was unknown to his coworkers and family. At his funeral reception there are about a dozen other public officials of different ranks. It is there where an amazing display of bureaucracy is made clear, and after much drinking and discussing, those who remained at the room came to the realization of the reazon of Watanabe's death. Inspired by it they all determine to make their work as meaningful and really serve the public, only to get back to the same status quo once back to work.

There is a parallel to the story and why some lean-agile projects fail and, worse, why entire organizations fail in the adoption. Simply put, it is very easy to get back to the old habits. Many organizations claim to be doing agile, be it scrum, xp, kanban or whatever else, in reality they still do in good measure the same things they were doing before with minor modifications such as not sitting at their periodic meetings or using post-it notes for their use cases. This more often than not results in even worse dynamics than before the "adoption". If you want your organization to really adopt lean-agile then you have to fully embrace it and be willing to go through what it takes to really make the transition.

No comments:

Post a Comment