Is Your Agile Transformation Fragile?
Agile and digital transformations are soooo hot right now. But what if we are putting a little bit too much faith in an Agile mindset.
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A lot of brouhaha has been created around Agile methodologies, mapping customer journeys, documenting company’s Agile journeys, and looking at scaled, full blown agile approaches. You meet people from the Agile community and the excitement, the various approaches, the stellar examples of Google, Spotify, Facebook, Microsoft amaze you and like charmed mice, project management professionals, follow the Agile Pied Piper to the river of doom.
We need to understand, the traditional project management practices were honed, pressed, tested and stood against the challenges of time to come out with that they are today. Yet, there are limitations to such practices and hence, the effort to identify an alternate approach that works in a relatively different environment, bringing the Agile Manifesto into existence. Those who don’t know the history of Agile have to step back and understand the changes the manifesto offered.
The reason for a strong push to identify something fast was to break the monstrously long development cycles put in place by various IT departments of the companies, to add or enhance any IT system put in place. Time to market was terrible and no one envisaged how the product will look like a patchy enhancement job. There were few vendors in the market who used to build enterprise systems and all existing systems were monolithic in nature. Enterprise software was a scary and giant endeavor.
That culture was getting challenged by newer programming paradigms and better technological solutions. Extreme Programming was the thing everyone was raving about. In fact, the origins of the Agile Alliance could be attributed to a retreat held for various leaders in the Extreme Programming community in the Spring of 2000. A bunch of active XPers were invited to the rural part of Oregon to discuss various issues in XP. Also invited were a number of people who were interested but separate from XP, such as Alistair Cockburn, Jim Highsmith, and Dave Thomas.
At the meeting the relationship between XP and other methods of a similar ilk—at the time referred to as Lightweight Methods—were discussed. It was agreed that XP was best as a specific process and was also agreed that there was a lot of common ground between XP and some of these other methods, because of this it was attempting to put together a meeting of people interested in this broader range of methods.
A wide range of people were contacted, and after much discussion it was settled on a meeting at Snowbird Utah from February 11-13, 2001. In the end, those that made it were the 17 whose names appear on the manifesto.
Why have I highlighted the relevance of this specific history? We pin the entire hopes of the future software industry and projects to Agile because 17 of the attendees of the Snowbird meeting as a Bible to follow blindly and create a cult from. Yes, Agile has fantastic merit and relevance, but like any formidable approach it is not a silver bullet.
We have to make our base strong before we move to any new methodology or adopt a new mindset. It is easy to highlight the ill facets of an approach but we have to identify the strong features of the old approach and identify the trade-off we’re looking at.
Note: This article was first published on author's LinkedIn Post on 1-Sep-2017
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