In short, Agile is starting to take off in Hong Kong. Others might say, it is not really happening here (yet), depending on how optimistic one is. While in America, Europe and even other APAC countries, Agile software development is widespread, Hong Kong is a quite different story.
Why? There are several reasons. Most people associate Agile and Scrum with software development, and there are less software development companies and software developers in Hong Kong compared to neighbouring countries. It seems that most software for Hong Kong customers is developed in India or Singapore.
Another reason could be cultural. Software development as craftsmanship seems to be less valued in Hong Kong than in other countries. Also, there is this obvious hierarchy, where management takes decisions and subordinates follow up. Actually, this seems to be only the symptom of much deeper difference with e.g. Europeans. Higher ranking people, both in private (parents and other older family members) and business life, are much more respected than in Europe. This very nice cultural aspect, has a pitfall. It is quite difficult for teams to take substantial decisions without simply asking the boss what she wants. This makes introduction of self-organising teams easier if management actively and continuously approves and (co-)facilitates the coaching process.
Hongkongers are hard working people. Working more than 40 hours a week is very normal. Children are brought up in relatively protected environment, where hard work and obedience are being rewarded. Typical Agile guys in self-organising teams are rather assertive and opinionated, and don’t really like working hard. Instead, they like to continuously improve effectiveness of their work. In other words, achieve more while doing less. There is of course nothing wrong with working hard. It is just that in order to be more effective, very often we have to slow down and retrospect on what is happening. This might feel like waste of time and awkward.
Also, people are very eager to learn new things. Preferably by listening to a lecture or some other form of teaching. Unfortunately, there is not much to learn about Agile and Scrum unless you actually start doing it as soon as possible. Becoming Agile is more about learning from experience, and less about learning from others.
I’ve also wondered if delivering a software solution here in waterfall approach is simply more successful than in Europe or US. Therefore, an Agile approach with faster delivery would simply not be needed. That is definitely not the case. The problems with disconnected business, large IT projects, mostly outsourced and managed with thick contracts are same as anywhere else.
Comments on the subject are very much welcome.