Agile in Toxic Organizations

Perusing the Agile 2011 proposals, I wondered if anyone in the Agile space addresses coaching Agile in the toxic organization. I’m not a coach, but I feel the coach’s pain.

I have seen the Bright, the Lite, and the Dark Side of Agile. Please explain to me how one can be helpful bringing the dark into the light.

Do some organizations have too much of a baked-in reactionary culture to reap the bounty of agility? Are the pathetic schlubs walking the halls with their heads down merely avoiding the shrapnel of IEDs (Iterative Explosive Distractions)?

Do these soul-sucking organizations have enough banked karma to deserve the best intentions of passionate Agile coaches and the elbow grease of super-talented Agile developers?

Overheard on a speaker-phone during Project Chartering introductions:

“I’m Rose. I don’t know why I’m here.”

A subject matter expert with a meant-to-impress title, Rose made her deadpan introduction to her soon-to-be teammates.

Queue the crickets chirping.

Also remoting in, the speaker-phone voice of the CIO explains Rose’s presence in the chartering session and what Rose’s hoped-for participation would be on the team. Yikes. Gotta love that business buy-in.

Toxic organization is a loaded term. One characteristic of a toxic organization is that

The people most comfortable with command and control often mistake agility for the more familiar reactionary.

Just bark at me if you think I might ease your slither from the dark into the light. Otherwise, I’ll join my heads-down comrades in C-Sharpistan.

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