Do Agile titles matter?

I’m currently implementing Agile at a large American bank. We’re just getting to the point where we map what Agile means against what they currently do, so we can identify the real nature of the changes Agile calls for. One issue that has already come up – as it always does – is whether the role that will (with appropriate training and support) become the Scrum Master can keep their existing title.

It seems fair enough: there’s no point in change for change’s sake, and it will minimise what already looks like being quite a lurch, even with the most careful bedding in.

But I had to answer a very definite No.

The reason is very simple, and precisely to do with the fact that what we are trying to do is to change the bank. Agile is already a big enough break from what is currently a very silo-based, bureaucratic-yet-political and, it must be said, rather weak organisation. To allow the new responsibilities to be assimilated to the old titles will, I fear, only lead to them slipping back to the old ways of doing things. I don’t want them to just unbolt their existing jobs and reassemble them into some sort of pseudo-Agile mish-mash; I want them to make a genuine leap. And as, in my experience, few organisations are really ready for Agile before they make that leap, it is a general good rule for implementing Agile: don’t let them keep the old titles.

Agile isn’t just a change – for most it’s a genuine revolution. And as in any revolution, there’s a lot of talking. After all, as perhaps the greatest of all 20th century revolutionaries, Leon Trotsky, once said, revolutions are always verbose. But not all of this talking is to the point, and at least as much of it aims at covering up while we slide back into the old comfortable ways as explaining how we will move onwards towards fundamental change.

Vive la revolution!

By |2018-01-18T13:09:23+00:00Monday, August 10 2015|Categories: Agile, All, Bureaucracy, Change, Language, Management systems, Principles, Process and method|0 Comments

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