This post is from the CollabNet VersionOne blog and has not been updated since the original publish date.
Agile is NOT a game of perfect
Practice makes perfect. Well, that’s not ‘entirely’ true.
I don’t mean to discourage the high achievers in our audience, but no matter how much you practice, you could ALWAYS do better.
During his spectacular run a few years ago, Tiger Woods missed a few putts, dropped a few wedge shots in the water and ‘occasionally’ whistled a drive out of bounds. Imagine how many tournaments he would have won if he had eliminated ALL mistakes.
A highly-strategic executive, with years of training and experience under his belt, might stumble badly with an acquisition. The proposed gains introduced into the organization via the acquisition never materialize.
When I play soccer with my son in the backyard, he strives to do a great job, yet his shot misses the goal on a frequent basis. I’ll encourage, coach, instruct, but the misses will always be there.
It’s the same way with agile development. It’s noble to aim for perfection, but, as with any methodology, you’ll always have room for improvement. Agile gives you a platform to quickly identify, and hopfully correct, weak spots and deliver value quicker, faster and better than ever before.
I’ve talked to numerous companies about their agile pursuits.
Here’s what I hear:
“I heard about agile from a colleague. He said he was surprised at how quickly his organization adopted the principles. I figure I’d see what agile is all about by attending a local conference.”
“We tried agile, but I couldn’t get my boss to believe in it.”
“This was a classic bottoms-up effort. We had a few developers familiar with agile. They took it upon themselves to get the rest of the team on board. The rest was history. I could never see this group moving away from agile. It’s brought a new level of efficiency to our organization.”
Change is hard. Agile is change. Change won’t happen today. Change happens over a period of time. Agile isn’t about perfection.
Like a fallible Tiger Woods or a misaligned executive or a novice soccer player, adopting agile at your organization will be painful at times. You’ll sometimes feel as if you are taking two steps backwards for every one step forward.
My advice: be patient. You WILL make mistakes. Each mistake, however, is a learning opportunity.
Every company is different. The team structure will differ. The experience of team members will vary. The appetite of your executive team to investigate another way of delivering software and value to the organization will be dissimilar at every stop in your career.
Before jumping your company into agile with 100% of your energies, consider the following:
- Get some training: There are some recommended, time-tested approaches that will help ease your company’s transition to agile. Knowledge is power. A basic level of understanding will prove golden to you and your company.
- Talk to your friends: The power of peers in our buying decisions is a trend that isn’t waning anytime soon. If you have a question or concern about agile, most likely someone in your network has already seen it and figured out an exceptional solution. Don’t be shy. Learn from those who have blazed the trail before you.
- One step at a time: Congratulations. Your company has committed its first project to agile. Take a measured, methodical approach to ensuring that this first agile project won’t be the last for your company. If you persevere, agile will reap dividends.
Agile is a journey. You are never really ‘there’. Your team and organization mature, get better, stronger, smarter and more evolved by adopting the practices and principles of an agile organization.
No matter the venue: the golf course, basketball court, executive boardroom, Scrum team room – make practice a part of what you do every day.
Agile certainly isn’t about perfection; it’s about bringing value to your organization and to your customers in the most cost-effective, team-centric, transparent way.