I decided to write a post about my experience of working in a very demanding banking organization that in my opinion suffers from technical incompetence as well as old-fashioned IT culture. The project we are working on will transform the commercial and corporate banking channel and for that reason it has the gained complete focus of the upper management personnel. The team itself is divided between Edinburgh, Halifax, London and New Delhi which makes communications quite hard. When I joined the project I was warned about the cultural and technical difficulties that exist in the team. Worth noting that it consists of permanent staff as well as contractors and of course our offshore partner in India.
Part of my role in the project, is to break those IT stereotypes that the team is suffering from. My managers have every confidence in me, I believe I have gained their respect and they keep consulting me on a daily basis about how to go forward. It seems to me that they would love the culture of the IT department to be modern and the people to be willing to adapt to new policies, technologies and procedures. I know that they would love an agile team but at the same time they acknowledge that as a team we do not have that capability quite yet.
Having said all that, I came across a very interesting article about ways to perform Agile Transformation in organizations that suffer from lack of adaptability.
The biggest issue in such situations is the people. Especially the permanent staff. In our company we have people that have been programming in the waterfall model for almost 20 years, knowing nothing about object oriented programming for example. People that love to stick to the process of first making the perfect design, and then to develop the product. From my experience this situation almost never happens, and waiting for the perfect design costs time and money. As someone that believes very much in the success of the project both from a technical as well as a financial side, it is my obligation to change that mentality. I believe very much in an Agile world.
My enthusiasm is slowly decreasing. In order to get anything done, you need to wait for ages. People simply don’t care about their work enough to carry out some tasks that they may be unfamiliar with. I have met many people criticizing the choice of the language (Java) simply because they had never had any experience with it. Moreover, when you try to convince them to do things a different way, they become as stubborn as a donkey (popular Greek expression). And then, you escalate things to the managers. I would expect to have their full support but what could they do when a person who is with the bank for >20 years stands against me?
I guess that the article mentioned is right:
“Agile adoption is a harsh mirror. If you don’t want to know how ugly you are, don’t look in.”
Question is however and goes to the managers: Where do they see the department going?
- Jazoon 2013 – Successful Collaboration in Agile Software Teams (pdark.de)
- Wet agile or agile waterfall? (java.dzone.com)