The Agile Mindset

During a retrospective with a client, we did an exercise called 5-whys to try and uncover the underlying reason behind the lack of focus on production. One enlightened developer provided a valuable piece of insight when he noted that we *may* still be in a “waterfall mind-set,” hence the lack of urgency.

This is natural after living under the tyranny of the waterfall deliveries for many decades.

Why does getting to production every sprint matter so much? Why won’t I just shut up about it?

In my experience, the greatest two barriers to a meaningful agile adoption are the waterfall mind-set and the belief that everything will magically come together at some point in the future.

Nothing has a more profound impact on changing the waterfall mind-set than actually getting to production at the end of every sprint. It will change the way you think and operate.

If the teams and the product owner do not insist on getting to PSPI (potentially shippable product increments) every sprint here is broadly what will happen. You basically end up with scrum-fall (scrum+waterfall) (devolopment sprints->line up environments-> integration test -> uat-> production). Estimates start to become meaningless as you will need an equally long time for the “release sprints”.

The net result will be a failure to deliver and ultimately blaming agile: e.g. “Agile does not work.” “We need to go back.” “If we stayed doing things the way were doing things, we would be live by now”.

As if to say that we delivered so wonderfully in the waterfall model.

But the product owner is not pushing for production

It is the job of everyone (feature team, scrum master, product owner). To date, the push to production has been coming from people outside these three groups. This should be discussed in PBR (product backlog refinement). The scrum master should keep the production tension alive. 

But there is no business value going to production every sprint

That is probably true during the first couple of sprints, but going to production every sprint will change the nature of PBR. The team/PO will start thinking about what useful things can be built to drive revenue. (e.g. if we do X can we start generating a subset of the revenue).