17 August 2009

Lazy Man's Agile

Many organizations mistakenly think that capital expenditures on software tracking & planning tools is tantamount to being agile. Plan, spend, and execute. It seems easy.

Tara Whitaker uses the Conscious Competence Ladder in her post Doing Agile is a Sign of Incompetence to expand on the distinctions between doing and being agile.

A common scenario that exemplifies doing agile is to ignore the first value in the Manifesto for Agile Software Development
Individuals and interactions over processes and tools
Capital expenditures on software tracking & planning tools do not guarantee your team will be happier or more productive.

Planning & tracking software CAPEX typically comes from the IT department with no coordination with the “beneficiaries” from the business side.

Short shrift is given to coaching. And there’s no budget left for courses or conferences.

I have dubbed this lazy man's agile.
Lazy man's agile is often less productive, and usually no more inspiring, than pile-driven waterfall.

Our lesson is simple.

People are first. All the other trappings are…well…trappings.

Don’t let the easy path of tools and templates drain the humanity from a great idea. People make software. People use software.

Hire coaches. Send your team to conferences. Define it for yourself. Craft a team understanding.

Pragmatic Suggestion
Start with the relatively low-cost, low-expectation of incremental improvement.
This is doing and being at the same time.