Pradeep Narendran
Vice President
JP Morgan Chase & Company



Part One of a Four-Part Series

First and foremost, why use Agile and lean concepts in software development or other production shops?

Innovation is wasted, if I may, unless rubber meets the road ON TIME! If innovation is not commercialized or socialized soon enough, it is a loss to the innovator(s), institutions, and society, at large. In the context of industry- driven commercialization of innovation, the corporation that goes to market faster with a comparative innovation, emerges having a competitive edge, and possibly greater market share, and stronger brand recognition as the innovator! Agile, and lean concepts, are designed to achieve this objective, when, where, and if it makes sense to be used as the right tool for the mission!

Yes, call it framework, methodology, or what you may, but Agile is a tool for you to use to your advantage; to successfully deliver your innovative product to market, on time! And as with all other tools; the appropriateness of the tool, and, the readiness of the wielder(s), for each project on hand, needs be assessed, before blindly embarking on a “ONE TOOL, ONE CRAFTSMAN fits all needs” philosophy.

When I read articles like “The Top 10 Issues in implementing Agile,” more often than not, I see a vivid gap, in that the following key elements are conveniently ignored:

  1. A lack of in-depth understanding of the Agile concepts by top leadership
  2. “Mindset change” is not just a cliché for the Scrum team members to swallow and cause an immediate revolution; but an actual need that begins with top-down shift in corporate culture
  3. Measurement metrics in the Agile world should not be expected to be comparable with traditional project management metrics

The three bullet points in the paragraph above are huge topics in themselves. They can lead to many detailed discussions for those who really want to make a difference. In my upcoming articles, I will delve more deeply into each of these three key elements of successful Agile implementation.

Here, I will attempt to give a brief insight into just one of the elements mentioned above by providing an example of how a lack of in-depth understanding of the Agile concepts by top leadership can be detrimental in the success of Agile implementation.

Leadership that forces Agile down through the organization without understanding it themselves tends to measure productivity of teams with the same yardsticks they used to measure teams in the waterfall world! This seemingly simple error can lead to false measurement, which in turn leads to fear, morale dips, and cover ups, to name just a few issues for starters. The end result is obviously the unintended – Agile implementation that does not work.

Addressing the details that lie in the points above is paramount for Agile success. Delving into 10 or more top issues based on outcomes from passionate retrospectives written up by scrum team members, will only beget frustration, and more issues!

As it is said, “The devil is in the detail,” and the detail in this case, begins from the top; not just the weeds! For anyone that means business, let’s call a spade, a spade! This way, we know what it does, and if it is the suitable tool for the job on hand!

Please note: The above are my personal views and not the views of my employer.

As an entrepreneur, Pradeep pioneered indigenous manufacturing of intricate machinery and turnkey plants in the confectionery and chemical industry. He also spearheaded the automation of inventory management for Dubai’s leading plastic manufacturer. In his U.S. career, he developed feasibility studies as an M&A team member in the energy sector, and organized and guided Agile teams across various federal government agencies. As an Agile thought leader and public speaker, he enjoys sharing his views and experiences culled from a broad spectrum of industries.