If It Waddles Like a Duck – It Must Be A Duck?

The saying…

If it looks like a duck, swims like a duck, and quacks like a duck, then it probably is a duck.

implies that a person can identify an unknown subject by observing that subject’s habitual characteristics.  It is sometimes used to counter abstruse, or even valid, arguments that something is not what it appears to be. – Wikipediahttps://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Duck_test


How about this..?

If they look agile, acts like agile and talk like agile, then it probably is agile” 

I’ve witnessed this quite a few times over my career; where because organisations have whiteboard, stand ups and discuss projects in sprints, they think that they’re being agile. However these organisations are missing something, they’re not agile as their overall behaviour hasn’t changed.

“Being Agile” means changing behaviours, embracing a different approach – it certainly isn’t just going to Staples for a load of whiteboards and post-it notes. It means embracing the new  values and without doing so companies will never really gain the benefits.

If you look at the Scrum Values

  • Courage
  • Commitment
  • Focus
  • Openness
  • Respect

all support the change of behaviours in a safe environment so that people can change how things work.

When projects become difficult it is far to easy to fall back into old habits. Force deadlines through, making the team lower quality and burn out your key people. What needs to happen is that the old way is thought of the past and should never be returned to; lets not make the same mistake twice.  We have to call out when we see these behaviours happening; we have to be brave and say we are not working to the correct values.

Reverting back to old habits is so easy to do though and I’ve been guilty of this due to pressure constraints. It is at times like this that you have stand strong and believe in the framework and maybe have some difficult conversations with stakeholders.

There is the reverse of “Agile Duck”,  where a company wants to embrace agile but keep things similar to what they have now; as shown in the example from the PSM1 prep exam. scrum-question


When this happens, it is time to be brave and remind people why we have to do what we have to do; change is hard and there are no easy wins. However, you have more chance of succeeding if the values are truly embraced.


Agile is all about adapting to new ways of behaviour and thinking differently. You look like a duck but are you?


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