relevant snippet: "There is no difference between a team transitioning to Agile and a team that "is Agile". At what point exactly, in your thinking, does a team or organization stop transitioning to Agile and become truly Agile? Define "truly Agile" in a way that is universally acceptable. You cannot. That is why I say teams and organizations fall somewhere on a spectrum of Agility. Thing is, there is no defined endpoints along this spectrum. Yes, those of us scrummers would like to see organizations toward the agile end of the spectrum, but at what point can we objectively say XYZ team has reached an acceptable level of Agility? (Take a look at Esther Derby's blog too, no link handy, she also has some writing on this topic).
It's growing tiresome hearing people with a very narrow range of practical experience make these sweeping generalizations about how a "truly Agile" team should be, often using absolute criteria. I get the feeling some people, including myself at one point in time, had an idealistic set of conditions produce uncanny results: the team was both highly motivated and intelligent, the customer was responsive, accessible, and knowledgeable. Agile is about principles, about empirical process, common sense, not defined absolutes.
But what if the conditions aren't so ideal? What if the team is totally unmotivated and firing isn't an option? What if the business organization was in shambles with no real source of solid requirements? Let me provide an example: an organization with union workers that cannot be removed, that are largely unmotivated, and resist change. Can we take steps toward increasing the frequency and quality of software delivery? Can we try to motivate workers by bringing in high-energy, talented staff? Can we root our the matrix org structure and set up cross-functional teams? In most cases, we can do something to improve the situation... but we'll probably never hit 100% truly Agile according to some idealistic criteria IN THIS CASE. But in my book, that's better than nothing."
Download the PDF version: Follow Up On Transitioning to Agile blog