Thursday, March 08, 2007

"Agile" or "agile"

If, like me you seek insights into how to really create "Agile" businesses, I'm afraid there's a mountain of hype, miscommunication and misunderstanding to wade through.

"Agile" has over the last 2 years become the latest "fad" in business circles (certainly I.T. circles) and so of course, every Tom, Dick and Harry is jumping on the bandwagon trying to make a "buck!"

I attended a Scrum Gathering in the States about 2 years ago when the issue of how to rapidly implement Agile across large organisations was a key topic. The truth is, that as with anything in life, it takes time, alot of time, to get something worth having!

Toyota are quoted as saying it takes 12 years for a corporation to become lean, and I believe them.

"Agile" with a capital A, is not just about adopting a methodology or some SOA or web services architecture; Agile is about shifting executive, middle management and "coal-face" employee mindsets from heirarchical, document-heavy, linear thinking to creating an organisational culture that embodies the tenets of the agile manifesto:

To really value collaboration over contracts, the individual over processes and systems, and value responding to change, over long-term planning.

This is Agile with a capital A, and a true understanding of Agile can only be achieved by pioneering it within your own sphere of influence and experiencing it for yourself. If you want help getting started see Womack, Jones, Poppendieck and Schwaber for reference.

Any company, person, or software architecture can claim to be agile, but, to cut through the hype you need to find those people who know the difference...

"Agile" with the capital 'A', or "agile" with a small 'a'.


Asish said...

I agree completely, it's a personal journey to learna dn unlearn to call yourself an Agile practitioner.

Anonymous said...

We use 'Scrumban' - a hybrid between Scrum and Kanban models. We have one team that supports multiple products in both maintenance and new development. While capacity planning and velocity help us in resource leveling for current iterations, I am wondering how do we identify future staffing needs when the workload is so unpredictable? How can i plan for resource availability and determine when to hire in Agile world? or is there not such a thing?

Steve Garnett said...

To anonymous,
To be honest the best person to answer this question is you. Resource planning and models are one of the most difficult things to run because all people are different, with tacit knowledge and you have unpredictable demand. Typically ways to solve this are building flexible resource models where a certain percentage of your people are temp and some are perm. This runs the risk of losing valuable tacit knowledge in periods of low demand versus reducing your costs during the same period. There's no easy solution - suggest researching around resource management and planning for ideas and working approaches.