I’d say most development teams nowadays at least call themselves agile. But often the question arises, are they really agile?

It’s not enough to have the daily stand-up and a sprint planning meeting every fortnight. Working as an agile team also means that every member of this team has the right mindset. Additionally to that, you may experience that an agile development team in a bigger company depends on the mindset of every other department, too.

If sales and development don’t work together, no agile paradigm will help you out. Sadly enough, there are three phrases you almost always hear more or less often in a company and it’s up to you to fight them.

We’ve always done it that way

The time I joined a bank as a so-called “data warehouse expert” (although I had almost no experience with data warehousing – so much for job titles…), my supervisor had really high hopes that this one young guy could change the whole department. I’ve joined the company half a year after I got my computer science degree.

So, yeah, there might be people who can do that, and I was quite motivated actually, but it’s really hard to change the minds of a whole department when you’re very young, have no experience and everyone else is just happy to keep things as they are.

Granted, the data warehouse department doesn’t have much to do with software development. It’s just an example and there are definitely software development companies that have the same old thinking.

Just think about unit tests (not even test driven development, just unit tests) or version control. I know teams that still use Visual SourceSafe. The latest version is from 2005. This is just crazy!

So please, for the love of your whole team, don’t stick to the phrase “we’ve always done it that way”. This is getting you and the company you work for nowhere. In the end, everyone will feel like the five monkeys from that famous social experiment.

It’s not my job

Doesn’t sound very collaborative, does it?

I know that there are in fact some situations, where our co-workers can really get on our nerves. The developers also seem to be the computer, printer, and network fixing guys. Almost every time something technical doesn’t work in the other departments, they immediately stand at the door of the developer’s office.

It’s a gift that we tend to know so much, right? Well, if you have those five to ten minutes to spare, why not just be nice and help each other out?

Of course, if it’s too much or you are too busy at the moment, everyone will understand. We all have people that are responsible for particular tasks, and it’s perfectly okay to refer to them.

Also, there are requests that you really should learn to refuse. If you’re a programmer with deadlines and important back-end tasks but someone is asking you to design a chart for a presentation, then you should really talk to your supervisor first.

But apart from that, try to help each other out. In particular in your development team. Nowadays it’s getting more and more important to also gain knowledge outside your area. If your main task is to write code, but you also know how to deploy a web application to your web server, the whole team will benefit in the long run.

And who knows, maybe you’re getting really valuable for your company with all your knowledge and the next raise is just waiting around the corner?

We can’t

Yes, you can! Okay, this is really getting old. Anyways…

Don’t just say that. You are a developer. It’s a big part of your job to solve problems. So don’t just say that things are impossible.

Seriously, there are so many examples out there that just prove that with the right mindset everything seems to be possible. You don’t have to build the next electric car or start a journey to Mars next month, but if the performance of your app could be better, try to look for some optimizations. Maybe there are some lazy implemented algorithms in the code. If not, maybe it’s necessary to just acquire a better server.

You get what I mean.

Try to push yourself and your team, so that everyone is happy to work at this particular place.

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