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How can I move from a Waterfall approach and learn Agile?

It's tough to be the lone Agile supporter in a world of Waterfall enthusiasts. Expert Gerie Owen offers advice on moving from Waterfall to Agile.

Today, most companies are looking for Agile skills.  If you want to advance outside of an employer entrenched in...

a Waterfall approach, you often will need to show that Agile skill set.  Even within your current employer, there may be a time when Agile skills are looked upon as valuable.

To change a Waterfall-focused dynamic, become actively involved in the Agile community (e.g., a local Agile user group).  Meet other Agile professionals, connect with the community and learn from others within it;  follow them on Twitter and LinkedIn.

You also can advocate for Agile within your own organization, even if it does support a Waterfall approach.  Many Agile teams don't follow the Agile model exclusively; rather, they selectively take on pieces that make sense to their unique environment.  You may find that your teams are open to sprints, even though they plan everything out in phases and deliver working code infrequently.

To become an Agile advocate, you have to be viewed as an Agile expert within your company.  How do you do this?  First, start by questioning whether there is a better way to move forward with your project.  If you are speaking up and offering fresh ideas, you may find that your teams are receptive.  Second, you'll need to educate yourself on Agile.  Get a certification, whether paid for by your company or on your own.  It is an investment in your career.

Last, there are likely others in your organization who want to move away from a Waterfall approach.  Find them, and start an internal Agile interest group. Together you may be able to effect changes that you may not be able to do separately.

Next Steps

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This was last published in January 2016

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If you are the lone Agile voice in your company, how do you handle it?
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I’ve seen too many people stop talking about what they are advocating because they thought no-one was listening. It takes a long time to turn a large ship, so keep talking, even if you’re not in a position to implement the change. If you are in a position to implement the change, then you may need to work research how to successfully implement that type of change. One model promotes creating awareness of the need for change,creating the desire for change, providing the knowledge of how to change, giving people the ability to change, and reinforcing to sustain the change once it gets started.
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If you are at an organization entrenched in waterfall, I think it is unrealistic for the average employee to expect to make a difference in that regard. Sure, you can try, but unless you're in management, most people will need to accept the current company culture, or move on to something that suits them better. Just my opinion.
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This article is pretty short, so it can’t go into much detail, but I can’t put enough stress on the importance of getting involved in your local agile community. That alone can be a great benefit because, even if you work in a waterfall environment, you can talk to people, learn, and apply what you learn. Even a waterfall process can benefit from agile practices.
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What is a "lone Agile supporter" in this hypothetical situation?
Is it someone who has a real experience working in an agile environment? Is it someone theoretically willing to get into one? Is it someone imagining what is agile environment?
Depending on these propositions, answers may vary greatly. 
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