Is commitment dead in Agile?

Is commitment dead?

The concept of commitment as been used and abused by management, ScrumMasters and even Agile coaches.
I should know! I’m one of them! I figured that by making the burndown highly visible and holding team members
accountable to their Sprint planning commitment, that somehow it would get done. Worked for me when I was a
developer! Oh ya…I also worked nights and week-ends to get it done. This didn’t only mess up the team’s true velocity but I also wasn’t necessarily getting better at what I do.

Asking the team for a guaranteed functionality delivery commitment for a Sprint isn’t only futile but it can also be harmful to a team’s continuous improvement initiatives.
So is commitment dead? Its misguided use might be coming to an end but the team still needs to commit, engage and take responsibility. It’ll simply be used for what it was intended to in the first place – that is committing to something deeper and more meaningful.
So what can the team commit to? Here’s a hint : At the end of a Sprint Planning meeting, focus away from the specific.
Stories and tasks and ask the team if they can commit to being Agile!

Can the team commit to…

  • Satisfying the customer with the delivery of valuable software by the end of the Sprint?
  • Working with the business people a daily basis?
  • Dropping emails and communicate through face-to-face conversation?
  • Working at a sustainable pace?
  • Continuously pay attention to technical excellence and good design?
  • Maximizing the amount of work not done?
  • Inspecting and adapting?

I believe (not so naively) that if a team commits to applying Agile practices rather then to delivering specific functionalities, good things will happen. By committing to bettering their practices, teams will have no choice but to increase their velocity…

It’ll just happen! Somehow I think that’s what the co-creators of Scrum had in mind.

If you want to discuss about this topic don’t hesitate to reach me at twitter (@metlucero) or Skype (metlucero)

Mario Lucero

Mario Lucero

I am all about helping companies to adopt agile as methodology in Chile. Why? I believe many organizations think that agile is not for Chilean companies because of Chilean culture is totally different from i.e. USA culture but I worked with Chilean professionals who after using agile realized it is feasible to implement it. Agile works in small and large projects and there are many evidences which demonstrate this.

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