I love Agile. There, I said it. I love almost every nuance of the Agile Methodologies. Almost…. 95%. If Agile wasn’t misused as a buzzword so often, we could bump that up to 99%. Let’s explore that a little.
Back in the mid-2000s, we started hearing about a new trend in Project Management. “Agile”. Everyone wanted to get in on Agile training but, during the sales cycle, we found that most of our clients had a different definition of "Agile". They all wanted the same thing: “Faster Implementation”; “Less Expensive Implementation”; “Fewer Issues; Quicker Testing Cycles”.
From that time until now, the Agile Landscape has evolved to include many forms of frameworks, practices, process guides, and methodologies. An entire map has been created to map it out and show how these integrate and focus on parts of the PRINCIPLES behind Agile. Visit AgileDad’s website and check it out. AgileDad's The Agile Landscape
The desires are the same as “back in the day”: Faster speed to market, less expensive implementation costs, quality. It’s the triple constraint phrased slightly differently. See, when leadership doesn’t understand the Agile MINDSET, they do not understand why a new product isn’t live and in production and available to customers in a month. They miss the part where it is the same amount of product. Without guidance, they don’t understand the reporting. They still want to cling to the waterfall reporting formats – which do not accurately reflect the progress of the team.
Example: Twenty pounds of potatoes. They need to be cooked, whether you roast them, boil them to make mashed potatoes, including them in a soup/stew, or make potato soup. How I cut the potatoes determines what size pot I need and how long the potatoes cook. Agile isn’t slicing 20 pounds of potatoes down to 10 pounds. It is DICING instead of SLICING. It will cook faster, once in the pot, but it is still 20 pounds of potatoes. (Future Blog Alert: Talking Agile- Communicating Up, Down and All Around). I love potatoes and I love DICING the potatoes. Sometimes SLICED potatoes hit the spot; however, most times I just need the potatoes done to incorporate into another recipe. Like how, at times, waterfall is the best way to complete a project efficiently – such as with a file project. Most times, though – Agile is flexible and quick.
Time and again in my twenty+ years of experience, I’ve seen the spirit of a project become lost in the politics of a company’s culture. I’ve watched as the loudest voice won out and it wasn’t always the right thing to do. When teams evolve in an agile mindset, success is imminent. They work together to succeed and cheer each other on…or take each other to task, in case of a mistake. They learn from those mistakes and achieve greatness. Even in a hybrid environment, an Agile Mindset can prevail. It all starts with the mindset.
The Agile Manifesto says it all for me. It is concise, yet broad. It is a concept, yet actionable.
We are uncovering better ways of developing software by doing it and helping others do it. Through this work we have come to value:
· Individuals and interactions over processes and tools
· Working software over comprehensive documentation
· Customer collaboration over contract negotiation
· Responding to change over following a plan
That is, while there is value in the items on the right, we value the items on the left more.