Mateos-Garcia, Juan and Sapsed, Jonathan
Adopting Agile and Scrum Practices as Organizational Becoming
In: BAM 2008 - British Academy of Management Annual Conference, 9-11 Sep 2008, Harrogate, UK.
Established ‘rational’ methodologies in the field of project management are being increasingly challenged by scholars who argue that the emphasis that they place on idealised top-down processes neglect ‘soft’ human dimensions of projects. This has led to negative outcomes such as delays in delivery, low quality products and overshot budgets. In this paper, set in the empirical context of video game development, we present and analyse the Agile Programming Paradigm, an approach to the organisation of software projects that has recently emerged as an alternative to traditional, formal project management and organisation methodologies. The proponents of Agile advocate a bottom-up approach to management with an emphasis on constant product iterations and interaction with customers. They argue that a shift in attention from processes, documentation and measurement to ‘softer’ variables supports a development system better able to ‘embrace change’, which is understood as the
key limitation of formal, rational methods. We use emerging analyses of ‘organisational becoming’ first advanced by Tsoukas and Chia (2002) in order to frame our discussion theoretically, suggesting that the Agile Paradigm constitutes a potential answer to a key question formulated during their research, ‘what must organisation(s) be like if change is constitutive of reality’. In the empirical part of the paper we present three case studies of organisations that have implemented Agile techniques. This analysis informs a subsequent discussion where we assess the advantages and limitations of the Agile Paradigm. We conclude with an interpretation of our findings within the ‘Organisational Becoming’ philosophical framework.
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