The Seven Capital Sins of Agile

The Seven Capital Sins of Agile

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Over years of experience helping companies develop better digital products, we have come up with the seven key mistakes that prevent companies from benefiting from Agile.

Agile works and it provides an strategic advantage to your company. It will allow your company to be fastest to the market, it will enable growth and innovation, increase productivity, reduce costs, improve quality, maximize customer value while engaging everyone in the organization.

However those benefits don’t come for free. And you have to be wary of magic recipes, snake oil and pitfalls.

Some of those traps are promoted and reinforced by the Agile industry, some other are just due to a lack of understanding of underlying principles or how to manage change in an organization.

Let’s explore the list fundamental agile mistakes and talk about the first one in this post.

The Seven Capital Sins of Agile

  1. Agile as an operational improvement

1 – Agile as an Operational Improvement

The usual pattern is that most Agile adoptions are managed by the CTO or CIO, never the CEO. That is because Agile is not regarded as an strategic breakthrough but just as an operational improvement.

Something those guys from IT are doing.

If your company delivers digital products and you are not the fastest, the best and most efficient player in your market, then Agile should be a key cornerstone of your strategy.Click To Tweet

You cannot achieve your strategic goals if your processes are slow, bureaucratic and full of drama. You cannot compete if you cannot excel in execution.

Agile is an operations strategy. Agile (and Lean) have to be the core, the foundation, of everything you do.

And this requires, not only a change in processes and practices, but mainly a change in mindset and a continuous drive to transform deeply rooted ways of working.


A consequence of regarding Agile as an “IT Thing” is what we call Water-Scrum-Fall.

Agile Mistakes - Agile Pitfalls - Water-Scrum-Fall

Companies are organized in silos where each silo is responsible for one piece of the value stream. Delivery teams as just order takers, as if they were the factory, and it doesn’t exist a process of continuous experimentation with close contact with the customer.

This is the result of the old mental model: DESIGN/ENGINEERING vs MANUFACTURING. We have to move away from this IT as a service or cost center, organize around value streams like a Lean Organization and adopt Lean Product Management across the whole value stream.

Next up, Building the Wrong Thing Right.