Monday, June 20, 2016

Book “Digital Agility” Introduction Chapter 8 Agile Debates

Agile is a state of mind!

Agile goes beyond a buzzword. It becomes a mainstream methodology to manage software, also emerges as a management philosophy to run today’s digital business. Agile originally started out as a revolution against rigid, dogmatic practices, the ironic is that the way some people practice Agile has come full circle back to that rigid adherence to the mechanics of how practices are implemented and have lost sight of the original intent of Agile. Agile spurs many fiery debates as well, such as Does Agile improve software quality or is it the very reason for defects increase? Is Agile the friend or the foe of creativity? Are Agile making managers happy, employees unhappy? Etc.

Agile Paradox: Is “prescriptive” Agile practical? Based on its twelve agile principles, there are all sorts of agile explorement and deployment. Agile is a paradox because Agile does not lack disciplines, but needs to be more disciplined than any other development methodology. “Prescriptive” Agile includes incremental recommendations to the team as they build experience. However, it doesn’t mean overly rigid processes or applies other’s best practices blindly. You can measure whether practices are being down and to what degree, but each team is different, hence, it isn’t really prescription, but more about guidelines and heuristics. Regardless of which flavor of Agile practices you explore, you need to follow agile principles, people over process, change over documents, make continuous adjustments for your “prescriptive” agile formula, being agile rather than just doing Agile.

Is Agile the friend or foe of creativity? Agile is a fantastic way of working to involve everyone in the process of creation and delivery. Creativity is more of a culture thing rather being tied to a delivery process. Innovation and creativity are affected by the system at play in the organization. Agile projects that have great engagement and dialogue can be a fertile ground for creativity around how solutions are structured, designed and delivered. Agile stifles innovation when stakeholders dictate “how” and not get “why” and “what.” Because when a team in Agile gets “how” in the format of a user story, they tend to look only in one direction, but when they get “what,” or “why,” they can think of the optimal solution. A motivated team will be creative and will be innovative, but the team must have the latitude. The organization must allow for learning, experimentation, and failure. Therefore, organizational culture stifles creativity and innovation, not the frameworks used to deliver new products and services.

Is management pulling in different directions when implementing Agile: Agile process is robust, more adapt to changes and people centric. Could it cause the other set of problems such as the decrease of productivity because management pulling in different directions when implementing Agile? and what are the “agile” distractions”? Agile welcome dynamic tension. People pulling in different directions means that you are having different viewpoints considered. And if you could obtain a reasonable compromise, the solution will be good for all. People pull in different directions for reasons. If there is a conflict of interest, then there is no empirical approach that will make it go away. You need to get to the “what’s in it for me”” of the contenders. You need to work more on developing the unity of purpose. Ultimately, it is the top leadership team’s call to define what the business purpose truly is, and maybe take hard decisions. The Agile leaders have to listen to all demands and decide the path ahead, identifying and acknowledging the needs of all stakeholders and coming up with strategies that address everyone’s need.

The healthy debates would help to clarify agile principles and philosophy, develop the tailored best and next agile practices, build a culture of creativity and inquisitiveness, and improve agile maturity in a continuous way.

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