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Jimi Wikman

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One of the big problems that exist for people that are focusing solely on the Agile ways of working is that there is a blind spot to anything outside the team level. In any organization that is not built in silos based on teams this will be painful, or even unworkable. Sadly this is also a problem in how Atlassian are looking at their products, which is why there is a gap today in the official tools from Atlassian.

image.png.6ea430867f5d573848ac7e638efe40fb.pngI will let Slava Adrejev represent this team focused group since he was kind enough to discuss his point of view in great lengths over at LinkedIn. While I am sure Slava is an amazing person his point of view on the subject of how organizations work is a good illustration on how narrow the view can be sometimes from people that have this very narrow focus.

The idea that there are no managers in what Slava call agile software development is of course no true. I think Slava knows this, even if he valiantly opposed the idea by referring to the agile manifesto and concepts more associated with Scrum and other frameworks. Slava is unfortunately not alone in this view of the modern company and you will see many, many prominent influencers in the Agile sphere make this proclamation as if it was true. Whether they do it because they suffer from hubris, wishful thinking or just being ignorant of how business works is besides the point, which is that these ideas exist and they are very common in Agile contexts.

Teams do not exist in a vacuum

Since the Atlassian tools have been branded to be Agile due to the fact that most people don't know of any other tools than Jira Software this also place a problematic aspect to how the Atlassian tools are designed. I don't think I have to tell you how much people hate reporting time and to some extent spend time in Jira and it often stems from the fact that they don't understand why they do it.

Let's be honest... the team does not need to align against requirements, report time or even have tickets on a board, unless they need to present progress and value vs cost to someone outside the team. It would be pointless since the team would simply discuss what they wanted to do and then do things in any order they choose if they had no one that needed more information.

All organizations are driven by money

The thing is though that in every organization there are strategies and plans that are designed to keep the company aligned towards larger goals. It is for this purpose we feed progress and cost vs value data upwards to the management and strategic levels of the company. We also do this because people have a financial responsibility in multiple levels of the organization and they must provide information on what value they create that motivates the budget they have been given.

It does not matter what your thoughts are on whatever framework or methodology you advocate for, you can't get rid of the money aspect, regardless of how much you rationalize it to yourself and those around you. All businesses are driven by money and the pursuit to make more money and that is the core of everything everyone does in an organization. Playing the ostrich card and just repeating the mantra that management does not exist is a futile exercise at best and, as we have seen, a harmful one, at worst.

Abusing Atlassian Tools

This is why we also see a lot of people trying to build in the management and strategic aspects into the different Atlassian tools. How many times have you not seen a Jira installation filled with custom fields that all are used by management? How many times have you not had product owners and other managers asking for solutions to mage both the team's to-do list and their own product backlog of potential and how many times have they not been merged into one big heap of poo that is painful for all involved to use?

Almost every time I hear someone proclaim that Jira is terrible, and I look at the setup I understand why. Their setups are usually monstrosities that try to cater to the absence of proper management and strategic tools. Workflows that start at ideation with financial tollgates and statuses that span across design and requirements all ensure that it becomes hopelessly sub-optimized for everyone while at the same time painful use without splitting up in multiple boards and special filters.

It is time to look at work from a holistic perspective

With the introduction of tools like Advanced Roadmaps and now my personal favorite Jira Product Discovery we are dipping our toes in the management and strategic sphere. As long as we have people like Slava that refuse to acknowledge the existence of management and strategy, or their impact on the development teams, we will continue seeing this in the work tools as well.

I would wish that Atlassian would take a step back from their Agile background and adapt to a more holistic perspective on the work we actually do. I feel that with their ITSM focus for Jira Service Management and their introduction of Jira Product Management they have already started this shift. Personally I am not sold on the Jira Work Management yet as it is a bit too generic and lackluster, but that is also something I think is a shift in the mindset at Atlassian towards a more holistic perception of work, even if they do not say it outright and still focus very much on Agile concepts.

What is missing?

There are a lot of things missing from a management and strategic perspective. Pretty much all forms of project and program management tools don't exist today, like risk management and financial tools. We don't have any resource management and we still don't have any real teams usage. We don't have a requirement tool, or a test tool yet, which still puzzles me considering how prominent those tools are in the ways of working across the globe. Perhaps they focus more on microservices aspect of development and leave the traditional testing to the app makers?

From a strategic perspective there is not a single product with finance connected to it, which is why every product owner and project manager are using Excel to keep track of their costs. This is especially true for companies that have consultants and third party vendors involved. There is no design tool for UI and UX and there is no tool for marketing for example.

So there are a lot of aspects of the business organization that are not included in the Atlassian product ecosystem today and because of that we will continue to see abuse of the products that exist in an attempt to cater to this need.

 

Do you agree or disagree?

If you agree or disagree, then leave a comment and let's discuss things.

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