Many large IT organizations are so inefficient that helping them go agile may seem like an incredible amount of work.
The key to not being discouraged is taking the long view and following the advice for how to eat an elephant: it is “one bite at a time”. If we try to solve all the problems at once we will simply be overwhelmed by complexity. Therefore we take an incremental approach.
The key is to introduce a reflective inspect-and-adapt cycle into the process.
Scrum addresses this problem in a very simple manner. We keep track the impediments experienced by the team in an impediment list. Hand in hand with this list is the “1-day rule” that any impediment must be addressed within one day. Even if the root problem cannot be fixed immediately the continuous application of these principles will keep focus on process improvement. Day by day things will become better.
Addressing impediments is quite painful to large organizations since the process is extremely good at making the organizational dysfunctions very visible. Therefore, Scrum also comes with the warning that “a dead ScrumMaster is a useless ScrumMaster”. We have to adapt to the pace that the organization is capable of absorbing. In the case of bottom-up implementation this may be a very long process - especially if the organization is financially sound. Ironically, in going agile, it is often much simpler to treat a dying patient where “business as usual” is no longer an option and the motivation for fixing the problems is much higher.