By Musab Barakati

Agile is gaining a lot of traction due to the results companies get from proper transformations. This was further seen during the covid19 pandemic as agile companies adapted faster. However, this creates a new problem of the quality of Agile transformations. There is increasing demand but quality of supply cannot keep up. Many transformation efforts are falling into chaos instead of agility and that causes hatred for agile as reflex. This bad implementation is what is referred to as fake agile, and I even heard the term organized chaos.

An agile transformation has 3 main dimensions. Culture, structures and processes (or practices). Culture has always been elusive, the agile culture is centered around a mindset that has the values stated in the Agile manifesto as a foundation. Then comes structure, structure provides the depth and is more actionable, yet still difficult, compared to culture. Processes are the most actionable and easiest to understand.

Fake Agile

This fake Agile is very process oriented even though one of the values in the Agile Manifesto clearly states that individuals and interactions over processes and tools. There are different Frameworks and practices in agile but the point is to help individuals and interactions not make it more complicated and difficult for people.

The biggest challenge with fake agile is a lack of faith in Agile in general. Creating another mountain to climb. As if Agile transformations were not difficult to begin with. Many Agile coaches mitigate that by not focusing on what it is called and present it as experimentation and common sense even if it seems initially counter intuitive.

So how do we avoid fake Agile? Since agile is about people and agile coaches are at the epicenter of transformation, it is important to know the different kinds of coaches. These coaches are fictional. They can be internal managers, or external coaches, or consulting companies. What they have in common is that they cause real pain with no gain in the transformation.

Coach type



The confused

This agile coach doesn’t even have an approach or guideline to the agile transformation. It is true there is no “Plan” for an agile transformation, however, the agile coach can have an approach with enough knowledge in various areas of the business and a lot of knowledge in Agile.

  • Confusion of what will happen next

  •  A lack of trust in the process.

  • Unclear roles and concepts. 

The project manager

This agile coach is still managing projects instead of products. You can increase predictability with cadence and reduce risk with “project” breakdown but that does not mean it is Agile.

The happy-go-lucky

This agile coach is not focused on the team’s best interest, usually a “yes” man. Doesn’t care how the team impacts the users and is more concerned about harmony.

  • Short termism

  • Anarchy

  • Team resistance 

The all talk-no action

This agile coach asks for results, but doesn’t provide the organization with a way to get and measure results systematically. She tries to change people by talking to them only. This coach might have the communication skills needed, but lacks the discipline to transform the organization.

  • Start with high energy, but people revert to their shells.

  • Make people feel guilty for what she is not doing.

The Re-labeler

This coach changes names of things to sound like Agile. A project manager becomes a scrum master. A workweek becomes a sprint. And so on.

  • People get more frustrated.

  • Harder to change in the future.

The framework

This coach abides by the framework more than the inventors. Her framework blindness obstructs her from focusing on problem solving.

  • Painful and ineffective framework implementation

The dictator 

This agile coach doesn’t listen to the team. He is an extension of management and believes whatever he says is right. He does not understand servant leadership and has no interest to.

  • Worst results than waterfall

  • Systematic problems that will appear later


Original post can be found here.

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