“It’s not about the destination, it’s about the journey.”

This quote is used frequently by Scrum Masters who, innocently, are trying to encourage their teams not to be bogged down by disappointment and failure. Giving the benefit of the doubt, I have to assume it’s being used as a call to action, a rallying sentiment meant to inspire hope and ward off despair when things don’t go according to plan. The problem is that there are implications and gaping holes when using this type of language.

A journey still has a destination even if that’s not what this ill-defined “it” is about. A journey can still be in the wrong direction without course correction or a concrete understanding of where the sojourners want to end up. As Scrum practitioners, we should be caring very much about what it means to be “done”, right? There’s something fundamentally flawed about our understanding when it comes to organizational change, the efforts involved, and the approach we take to handle process change management and the inevitable bulwark of naysayers and bureaucracy.

When I hear “Agile transformation”, it conjures images of superheroes who, having encountered some supernatural element, wake up one day to find that everything has changed, they are no longer who they were, and somehow, in the blink of an eye, they’ve become a completely different species. The reality is more akin to a complicated heart transplant procedure than a picturesque caterpillar morphing into a beautiful butterfly. There’s a lot at risk, it’s a delicate process, and even if it’s successful, it’s going to require careful attention over the long haul.

What could go wrong?

Risk is a threat that what you have today, you may not have tomorrow. The nature and context of the risk that Agile software delivery can inhibit is a far cry from the necessary risk that its practice and usage incurs. Paradoxically, in order to ensure that the losses resulting from an increment of product are limited, we are asked to let go of a lot: assumptions, habits, sense of control, power.

We cannot expect that success will result from learning if we don’t admit we have something to learn; we cannot simultaneously hold customer satisfaction and personal gain as highest priorities; we must both admit that change is necessary and then actually change – good intentions quickly turn to neglect if left only as motivational quips.

Strangely, there is a leap of faith needed here but the leap is from the unknown to the known. Instead of holding on to the illusion that we are capable of turning the tide, we are adjusting to account for the world around us as we see and measure it. We aren’t shackled to the past because we acknowledge our experience as only one small contributing factor towards advancement and recognize and accept the value of diversity. Avoidance of fear is natural (“Don’t look down!”) but we ought to keep our eyes open, looking forward – we might find the chasm is shorter and more shallo