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Doing what I do for a living, I find myself often trying to explain
agile concepts to folks that are relatively new to agile methodologies.
Sometimes this comes up when I am teaching a class, doing a conference
talk, or breaking down some idea in a blog post. I thought I'd share my
approach with you guys, and a little on how I think about this, and see
if you guys have anything to add. Agile is a Family of
Okay... so you are going to
'adopt agile'. What exactly does that mean? Well... if you are going
to change how you are delivering software, it helps to start with an
understanding of the methodologies and approaches that you have at your
disposal. I like to start off talking about these methodologies and how
they relate to each other.
- Extreme Programming
- Adaptive Project Management
- Dynamic Systems Development Method
Methodologies Share a
Common Value System
What came first, the
chicken or the egg? If you look at the history of Agile, the manifesto
didn't come first. We had some folks in the community, folks that were
already using lightweight methodologies, that came together to explore
what these approaches had in common. After we have an anchor point
with the various approaches, I like to talk about the principles and
values that unite them. Seems consistent with how we actually evolved
as a community.
- Agile Manifesto
- Lean Values
Supporting the Modern
Next I like to explore what these
methodologies have in common from the standpoint of how we build
software in today's modern product development organizations. Each of
the methodologies express different aspects of the product development
lifecycle. XP is heavier on engineering, Scrum heavier on project
management and team dynamics. I like to explain the methodologies in
terms of how they address stuff we are already familiar with.
- Business Analysis
that are Consistent with Values
Now is a good
time to explain the practices that are associated with many of the
common agile approaches. Doing these practices doesn't make you agile,
but if you understand how they fit into and support the values and
attitudes, they certainly do reinforce an agile mindset.
- Daily Standup
- Iteration Review
- Continuous Integration
- Test Driven
- Small Teams
Artifacts that Support Practices
to the practices we just discussed, agile artifacts don't make you
agile. These artifacts are proven to support agility and make
collaboration and responding to change all that much easier.
- Burn-down Charts
- Cumulative Flow Diagrams
Roles and Responsibilities
At the end of
the day, it is the people in your organization that ultimately determine
your success or failure with agile methods. It is important to tell
them how adopting an agile methodology is going to impact what they do
for a living. When I talk about roles and responsibilities, I often
find myself talking about culture and the impact that agile adoption is
going to have on yours.
but the simplest organizations are going to have to deal with the
scaling issue at some point in time. Even if you are going from one
team to two, or two teams to four... understanding how scaling impacts
your business is an important part of the adoption discussion.
organizations are built around cross-functional teams
and culture will trump people, process, and tools every time
Thoughts and a Bit on Chapter Two
isn't an exhaustive list, just the things I seem to come back to the
most. It's raining here in Atlanta, so today I am doing some writing.
My kids are going to drag me off the couch in a few hours and make me
take them to the indoor airsoft arena, so I need to get a few words in
while I have the chance. Chapter two is going to explore some of these
ideas in more detail, so I expect to share some more on this approach
over the next few days. Stay tuned!
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