You Don’t Do the Agile Process You Are the Agile Process

You Don’t Do the Agile Process You Are the Agile Process

Saying it this way puts and emphasis on starting with self and looking inward before blaming outward.

For an agile process to be successful, and probably any process at all, it must allow some focus on people, passions and teams working together.

  • Without an aim we have no purpose and not much of a reason to be a team. When we have that product aim we can test our ability to work together by looking at the results of our product development effort.
  • Without a focus on people we often on mechanics of the process to the exclusion that people matter.
  • And without working towards our passions we fail to ignite the energy within ourselves and we fail to contagiously spread our enthusiasm to others around us.

When we properly include the above three in our line of vision and don’t fall prey to using a model of software development that is so complex there is no room in our heads for the above three, we can win BIG time. What we focus on matters and if the process is so complex there is little room to think about anything else, then we loose.

A recurring pattern, that we have observed in large scale adoption of Agile “The Pursuit of Enterprise Agile” . Is a successful pilot that really focuses on the people working together, can ignite a ground swell approach to adopting agile.

Typically, organizations get started by contracting with outside an outside expert who advises them how to start agile. The advice is typically some setup a pilot that will be small enough to influence yet important enough to keep attention focused. The idea behind a pilot is simple, “Let’s setup a little experiment with this thing called agile and see how it works out for you?” After a business case review or senior leadership buy-in, the pilot is set up with an appropriate amount of autonomy.

Usually, an internal person is to be part of the pilot and run it. That person is charged with setting up the pilot and documenting their observations so that the organization can learn. A team is formed, trained and started down the agile path. The team works shoulder to shoulder with an on-site agile consultant who demonstrates the habits and values of agile while in motion. Often the team quickly emulates the behavior and then falls into a rhythm of product development and delivery.

Then someone “process experts” typically take the observations of the people working together and abstract them. Now things really get whacked. The process expert believes they can take observations of the pilot and fold lessons learned into the enterprise methodology view. This is a too “hard problem” we have been trying to do this for years and are still in our infancy for understanding basic communication. However, based on what is written and documented in classic process literature you would be lead to believe we have evolved far more than we have.

After organization have absorbed the lasted round of process learning into their enterprise methodology. The very real skills and valuable team behaviors that were gained are lost. The next agile effort looks very much like the old process the organization ran before just with new words and language. The part that made the pilot effective is lost.

That is why “You Don’t Do the Agile Process You Are the Agile Process” works so well as a phrase. It constantly reminds me that agile starts with self.

People, Passions and Teams must be elevated above Principles, Philosophies and Practices. Without the first three the last three will not matter.