Monday, June 13, 2016

“Digital Agility-The Rocky Road from Doing Agile to Being Agile” Book Introduction Chapter 2: Agile Principles

The guiding principles and inherent values of agile promote transparency, trust, collaboration, respect, open communication, customer centricity, creativity, etc.

Fundamentally, Agile is not just the methodology and practices for developing and managing software projects, it’s a set of principles to run today’s customer-centric organizations. But how can you differentiate the guide principles from rigid rules? What are necessary clarifications for having an in-depth understanding of Agile principles, and what is the hardest principle to follow?

People are more important than process: Upon well-known twelve Agile principles, some say, the hardest one for most people to get over is “individuals and interactions over processes and tools.” Agile manifesto clearly indicates that people are more important than process. If an organization cannot give value to people, it is better to be away from Agile. However, many companies find it too difficult to solve people problems so they try to hide them with either processes or technology in order to avoid the confrontations with the result of solving people problems. How many process you’ll need depend on your people and culture, context is king. The perfect match is different in each environment. You need the people to understand what it means to be truly agile and you need the process to support those people in pursuit of being Agile. The well-established disciplines and highly skilled and motivated individuals can help to oil the wheels. The policies, processes, and tools should help to build strategy and business.

Simplicity Principle: Agile principle -”Simplicity: the art of maximizing the amount of work not done” is essential for Agile success. Simplicity is also a general principle to run the digital business today. Because it enforces agile value. It’s a call to scrutinize your business practices to ensure they are contributing towards agile values such as early and continuous delivery, responsiveness to change. By prioritizing the ability to change course, such scrutiny will favor the stripping down and reduction of overheads. Simplicity emerges synergistically from the reduction, but it is not in itself a goal. Avoiding waste is better than eliminating waste. Because avoiding waste is more about not building no value-adding features, and make sure the system you build is not so complex from architectural deployment and design perspective. Most of the times, simplicity can improve flexibility and productivity.

Continuous Delivery as a critical Agile Principle: “Continuous delivery of valuable software” is one of the crucial twelve agile principles. By following the above principles, the teams make sure that at the end of each sprint, you have a working software in which you can deploy to the production environment. End users would want to see the working software in the production environment as soon as possible. This technique of frequent delivery makes everyone happen all the time. It also reflects the higher levels of agility - the continuous learning and improvement mindset. To achieve such goals, feedback is one of the essentials that you need to have. The team should institute a continuous feedback mechanism, to determining something is not working, improving upon and moving on. You are also managing the risk either before it becomes real or soon after it hits you. As you are aware with regard to risk, you can do three things: avoid it, mitigate it, or accept it.

There are further clarifications about Agile principles from different lenses in chapter II of "Digital Agility." The inherent values of agile promote transparency, trust, collaboration, respect, open communication, customer centricity, creativity, etc. Agile principles are not rigid rules, but come from many different groups of practices finding common ground. The organizations and teams just need to experiment and learn, run and adjust, interact and improve, with the end business goals in mind, to achieve high-performing business result with customer satisfaction.

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