I'm a Certified Scrum Master, I've read the books, I've read the blogs, I've written articles but more importantly, I've worked with small startups to large billion dollar on training, running, and being successful with Agile.
It's not enough to simply read about Agile, those who truly understand do so because they've lived it. They have been in different sized companies, they have seen different situations, and they have worked with different people. Why is that so important?
As I've always stated, the hardest part about being Agile isn't the process, it's the change in people, behavior and culture. There's no quick and easy process to follow to change people, behavior and culture, that comes with experience. Those who have done it multiple times know how to influence positive incremental changes specific to the environment they are in to move them towards Agile.
Don't have the experience? Don't worry here's a quick and dirty cheat sheet.
That's it! Well ok I'll provide a little more context. When making decisions on how to fit Agile into your organization, when providing incremental value to the process, and more importantly as you unearth issues in your process, remember what the manifesto has to say:
When choosing how to change, make sure you're not breaking these core values. If you're implementing comprehensive approval processes, complex tools, heavy documentation, you're breaking these values.
Let me explain, you implement a strict template that every story must meet. Then a story must be approved, in which different people apply input into the wording. Then the Acceptance Criteria is critique. The story and AC go through a formal process where people must sign off. The whole process takes time to complete, and the story is fine tuned to perfection before it is approved by all.
Did the time and fine tuning really provide a value for the cost? If I take a small story that's gone through this process and asked the developers, the testers, the PO and the business what's the minimum you need in this story to be able to provide value (E.G. Working Software). I bet not a one will ask for the large process you have outlined. Most will probably say if they had more communication with the business directly they'd be setup for success (Individuals and interactions).
Maybe some stories (or epics) are more complex and require more documentation in order to get to Working Software. Maybe some complex interactions require it to be documented. That's perfectly fine when it's needed. But remember, the most important thing is highlighted on the left of the manifesto. Do what you need to get to those with the least impact on the team and you will be successful.
A special thanks to a colleague of mine, Shannon who sent me this link, gave me a chuckle. Sadly many organizations think like this, are you one of them? If so, that's the people, behavior and culture changes I was speaking about earlier.