Andrew Wicklander over at Ideal Project Group has a great post on the answer “not yes.” I hear this answer an awful lot when taking teams agile (or more agile).
“Not yes” is the answer you hear when you request permission to do something that’s not well understood by the requestee (such as initiate a daily stand).
The “not yes” answer means the requestee has no interest in saying “no” but doesn’t want the accountability of saying “yes”.
The “not yes” answer gives the requester the opportunity to try, succeed and reap the rewards of that success. But failure, and the costs of it, fall directly on the requester.
Welcome to the world of agile adoption. We thrive and starve on “not yes” answers. More often than not we thrive, which is why agile has achieved its current level of popularity.
But failure can be a major setback, because agile takes all the blame.
This “not yes” answer may help to explain why agile development can be such a polarizing topic. Across a multitude of organizations, the “not yes” answer has heaped the responsibility both for great success and great failure on agile. Regardless of whether this is accurate or fair, it’s no wonder there’s so much passion and experience on both sides of the agile debate.