AINO – Agile in Name Only

AINO – Agile in Name Only

aino blog Aug 18, 2019

More and more companies have decided to switch to Agile (Scrum) because, apparently, that is the solution. But the solution for what?

In general, Agile is seen as the solution to survive in an increasingly rapidly changing environment.

Being Agile means you can adapt to an ever-changing environment fast and successfully.


Inspect, and adapt a necessity for survival.


After the decision has been made to transform to Agile Scrum, typically, a large (Waterfall) transition project is started. 🙂

I am convinced of Agile Scrum because it lays a solid foundation for becoming an Agile company. But here is the catch: by nature, we tend to focus on the how-to and forget why we are doing something.


The ´Scrum pitfall.´

After three to six months, Scrum has become the new process that replaces the old way of working. However, often we are still doing it the same way as before, just in with a different outside. I call this; AINO - Agile in Name Only. It often seems like we have just replaced some names and terminology.

For example, the former Team lead is now called Product Owner or Scrum Master, and the Team is now called a Scrum team or Squad.

Due to the new (Scrum) process and the new terminology used, it looks like we work entirely differently. But, in my experience, it only looks like this, but in reality, we still work like the old way.


In many cases, the job titles and the superficial way of working changed, but basically, not much has changed really.


When a company has learned to execute Scrum well, the next step comes into sight towards an Agile organization.


This is the phase where the transformation towards Agile comes to hold, in 9 out of 10 cases!


After the decision has been made to transform to Agile Scrum, typically, a large (Waterfall) transition project is started. 🙂


With Scrum, you CAN be Agile, are you?


I know organizations that have switched to Scrum, but in reality, they are still running their projects as waterfall projects, now only with a Scrum sauce.


Beware when you become experienced in Scrum!

When you have reached the stage that you are very experienced with Scrum, then be careful!

Now you are running the significant risk that Scrum will just turn into a new habit, nothing more. Therefore, be alert when you reach that point.


The moment the learning phase is over, the brain starts to automate this process as quickly as possible. Result; a new habit is installed, and the Agile mindset is gone!


This is because automated processes in your brain save a lot of energy; hence out-of-the-box thinking (Agile) costs a lot of energy.

Automation of a process makes it work more and more efficiently. Output, quality, customer, and employee satisfaction generally increase enormously! Just only while you use Scrum. (You do not need to be Agile)

After you have passed the first phase of learning Scrum, the time has come to take the next step towards becoming a truly Agile organization.


The only question is how?

My advice: Constantly stop the Scrum Wheel that is now spinning in your brain.

You do this by:

  1. Constantly forcing yourself to think-outside-the-box.
  2. Constantly forcing yourself to step outside the newly ingrained scrum paths.
  3. Constantly forcing yourself to do things differently.
  4. Challenge yourself, again and again, to check whether what you are doing now is really that innovative?


Your brain doesn't want to change.

The brain will resist when you keep changing by constantly thinking and acting out of the box

Therefore, be alert by thoughts such as:

  • “Yeah, huh, no time now!”
  • “But, it's going much better anyway!”
  • “Why does this have to be done again?”


It's your brain whispering that you need to do it how you always did it.


In the 2nd phase of the Agile transition, an experienced Agile transition coach is essential. A coach who repeatedly dares to; challenge the Product Owner, Scrum Master, Team Members, and Management to think and act outside the box, creating new patterns.


Constantly changing is unnatural for the brain.

Even though they may have many unwanted side effects, Habits feel safer to the brain than new things. Therefore, the instinct will do everything in its power to go back to the usual.


Are you working in an AINO organization?

After reading this article, I'm curious, what do you think. Are you working in an AINO – Agile in Name Only organization? I'm curious about that!

And I'm curious about your ideas on how you can support your organization to avoid becoming an AINO organization or move away from it.

Let them know below in the comment. Maybe your ideas can also inspire others to avoid becoming an AINO organization towards becoming an increasingly goal-oriented Agile organization.

The question now is: 'How did this come about?`



Danny Vermeeren | Senior Agile Coach/Senior Scrum Master

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By the way, my mission is:

"Building Elite Agile Teams and Elite Agile organizations, so that employees can really live their full potential so that customers receive awesome services, and the organization becomes an example in their marketplace."

The question now is: 'How did this come about?`