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I suspect there are a lot of projects like this. Many people consider agile to be a collection of optional practices. They often miss the principles behind the practices. It is easy to say you're doing agile, but more challenging (and infinitely more rewarding) to be doing it. Here's one example that I experienced first hand. I worked with a group that had been doing agile for a couple of years, but they had really been doing it in name, not spirit. They called what they were working off of the backlog, but it wasn't prioritized into more than must, should, frill. This resulted in them taking on all sorts of things that weren't really the most important thing they could be working on. Things were optimized at the individual team level, not in the context of the bigger picture. They did a daily stand up, but it lasted 30 minutes to an hour. They didn't get much out of it and it wasted a lot of time. Blocking issues were left unresolved for weeks. They mostly finished their stories within the iteration, but it was far from releasable. It took 3-4 months to run through a regression cycle. There are lots of other examples of how they did agile in name, but not in spirit. Over the course of a few months, we addressed each. It was amazing the difference. It was a whole new experience for them and they were thrilled with the results. They had been "doing agile" for a long time, but now they got it.

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November 2008

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