Wednesday, January 25, 2017
A case study that highlights some key reasons why agile works ... when agile works. I've seen this in large agile adoption, everybody goes around with new task lists, new checkboxes, new procedure guides. But the work itself gets lost in the shuffle and the old politics, tensions and procrastination by meeting sets in.
The heart of agile is simplicity. Get started, give yourself a target, and then using all means necessary get something out the door. MJP's story about 8AM Sharp demonstrates the challenge, we quickly learn just how hard something is to get "Done-Done", and so it becomes harder to start, especially in an environment where business reality forces us to give up on that perfect goal and settle for something less done in the end.
I've seen success where early in the process, management set a hard sprint limit to 2 weeks and stuck to it. Yes, we struggled for months to deliver anything that felt valuable to either the development team or the business. But that struggle proved valuable, we learned to stop punting problems downstream, and added new roles and tools for automation that cut out much of the repetitive busywork in building, releasing, and even testing. We learned to negotiate better the conditions of success, to prioritize features against key persona. We got inventive, and discovered new ways of reusing code that better fit the overall delivery process we actually needed, different from the one we had envisioned at the start.
The habitual timebox, the cadence of the team, is what fueled success.