Anti-Patterns in Agile Adoption: A Grounded Theory Case Study of One Irish IT Organisation

Global Journal of Flexible Systems Management 18(4), 275-289

23 Pages Posted: 7 Aug 2017 Last revised: 6 Dec 2018

See all articles by Peter Carew

Peter Carew

Waterford Institute of Technology

David Glynn

Waterford Institute of Technology

Date Written: 2017

Abstract

This paper presents a case study of one traditionally non-agile Information Technology (IT) services organisation in Ireland during its transition to implementing and using an agile development framework. The case study follows the experiences of using Scrum for a major IT systems conversion project in the insurance industry over the course of 9 months and 18 sprint cycles. A grounded theory approach was adopted to organically understand how productivity, effectiveness and workflow priorities emerged and were influenced by the agile approach. Secondary data sources, including the minutes of official track meetings and other stakeholder emails into the Scrum team, were analysed and categorised. A total of 460 work item requests were identified in the data, and a total of 88 work topic categories ultimately emerged from the grounded analysis. The 12 most repetitive topic categories, having demonstrated good data saturation, were subsequently selected for further analysis. The findings suggest that recurrent ad hoc requests from stakeholders into the Scrum development team significantly interrupted work on prioritised work items, making sprint objectives difficult to achieve and affecting Scrum team productivity and effectiveness overall. There was also broad evidence that powerful stakeholders tended to adhere to a traditional non-agile management philosophy, thus undermining the self-organising flexibility required by the agile approach. Stakeholders also often had no shared notion of when a work item or sprint goal was complete, thus contributing to the agile anti-patterns observed and suggesting that an agile culture had yet to emerge or instill within the traditionally non-agile organisation.

Keywords: Agile, Anti-patterns, Case study, Grounded theory, Scrum

Suggested Citation

Carew, Peter and Glynn, David, Anti-Patterns in Agile Adoption: A Grounded Theory Case Study of One Irish IT Organisation (2017). Global Journal of Flexible Systems Management 18(4), 275-289, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3013882

Peter Carew (Contact Author)

Waterford Institute of Technology ( email )

Waterford
Ireland

David Glynn

Waterford Institute of Technology ( email )

Waterford
Ireland

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