this allows a clean break with the past and allows people to begin the transition to Agile without the worry that the change will itself lead to cuts.
Taking this approach will not be easy.Managers need to act hard, then swiftly change tack and persuade people that they genuinely want a change of style.
Managers who attempt a switch to while hiding coming redundancies run counter to Agile principles.Agile demands openness and trust.Hiding coming cuts while talking the language of trust is an act of bad faith.
Such an approach also suggests that managers have unrealistic expectations.In my experience teams do not become Agile overnight.With support (training and coaching) at least six weeks is needed before benefits are clear.The complete journey to Agile takes many months longer.
For those companies that have already made the switch to Agile the issues of layoffs are different. Agile places people centre stage–"Individuals and interactions over processes and tools"–so layoffs are potentially a bigger threat to effective working.
Keeping true to Agile values and principles demands teams and managers find ways to reduce the wage bill without resorting to job losses.Simple wage cuts are often the simplest and fairest way to do this but other options should be considered.
Alternatives include part-time working, sabbatical breaks or unpaid vacation.Teams can switch to four-day workweeks or take an entire iteration off without pay.
In fact Agile working makes it easier to implement some of these alternatives.Pausing projects is far easier to do when the whole team operates on the same cycle and has natural break points.
For teams with an established velocity the effect of switching to a four-day week will be clear.With less capacity to do work it becomes more important to strictly prioritise the work and make sure the highest value is done first.Again, Agile teams who reprioritise regularly will have an advantage over teams which work to fixed priorities for several months.
Those on the team doing the work - developers, testers, product owners and such need to recognise that maintaining a sustainable pace sometimes means economic solutions.There is no point in a team delivering software while the ship sinks.
Layoffs are never easy, and there is no clean or easy way to do them.When faced with the need to reduce costs Agile teams and their managers need to respond with the same values and creativity they use in delivering software.The watchword needs to be: collaboration.
Companies which can manage this most difficult of issues will be far better placed when recovery finally comes.Agile companies will bounce back on the way up.
Change in a time of downturn
Faced with a downturn there are two possible reactions. Option one: act like an ostrich, put your head in the sand and hope the thing will blow over.This is quite a natural reaction and one I experience most mornings when I open the newspaper.
The second reaction requires more bravery: recognise the fact the world has changed and respond accordingly.One day we will probably get back to a 2007 style boom but it isn't going to happen soon.Even if things start to turn soon it will take a while before the good times are really with us.And some things will have changed forever.
Coming out of the downturn requires companies and individuals to change their behaviour.We are heading for a new world.Some companies may survive by putting their head in the sand, conserving cash and waiting for things to change but the ones that do change will come out of the downturn sooner.
So the question is: how will your organization change? The downturn is