Wednesday, March 12, 2014

An agile enterprise...really ?

Every IT enterprise claims to be agile or wants to transform into one pretty soon. There are roles, processes, consultants and certifications, that specialise in Agile these days. But deep within these big enterprises who want to climb the Agile bandwagon, the meaning of being agile is lost.

If you are part of an IT enterprise ask yourself a few things by observing the people around you who are responsible for building the software to power your business.

Are people around you worried more about what is an Epic versus a Feature or a Story ? Are people discussing about what should happen in an Iteration/Sprint/Release planning meeting endlessly ? Is there disagreement on how things should be stored in that new Agile project management tool that your company just bought ?

 Think Individuals and Interactions over Process and Tools. 

What is more important here is not what an activity or an artefact is labelled as, but how we as software craftsmen create easy mechanisms to interact and collaborate and get the job done. Hiring a smart developer is way more important than coming up with a smart label or a process. That developer you hired will figure out a way automatically, trust me.

I would like to stress even more on the individual. How much is the developer you just hired empowered ? Can he/she pickup a story to be developed , question its business value when in doubt and challenge the product owner into not getting it developed ? Can he/she even visualise this as a remote possibility in between all the "Agile process" loops one has to cross ?

Look at people around you once again. Are they saying a story should not change within a sprint/iteration etc..? Are your sprints and releases locked in for even a few months at a high level ?

Think Responding to change over Following a plan

How are your people embracing or even responding to change ? Isn't it just another way to follow a plan ? What does it take for a developer on the ground to say a particular story will take 2 more days than what he/she thought initially ? What is the behaviour of people around when such a thing happens ? How easy is it to adapt to this reality in your organisation ?

So.. is your enterprise really agile after all ?