Friday, September 23, 2016

Being Agile: It’s A Matter Of Perspective

#SridharPeddisetty #Agile #BeingAgile #Scrum #Motivational #ProjectManagement #Management #AgileBestPractices #Inspirational  

A young couple moves into a new neighborhood. The next morning while they are eating breakfast, the young woman sees her neighbor hanging the wash outside. "That laundry is not very clean", she said. "She doesn't know how to wash correctly. Perhaps she needs better laundry soap.” Her husband looked on, but remained silent. Every time her neighbor would hang her wash to dry, The young woman would make the same comments. About one month later, the woman was surprised to see a nice clean wash on the line and said to her husband: "Look, she has learned how to wash correctly. I wonder who taught her this.” The husband nonchalantly said, "I got up early this morning and cleaned our windows."

Its been more than 15 years since Agile Manifesto is formulated but still there are strong voices heard for and against adoption of Agile. Its interesting to hear the arguments of why ‘Agile’ does not work and these arguments are not very different from when traditional SDLC & project management practices were employed. If you analyze Standish Group 2015 Chaos Report, its interesting to align some of the common concerns about Agile with what is shared in the report. 

Some of common concerns about Agile include

#1. Agile just works for smaller projects: 
Larger the goals, larger the chances of its failure irrespective of how you execute your strategy. As I had shared in my previous post Being Agile: Identifying Right Opportunities To Act, one of the Agile principles is "If You Have to Fail, Fail Fast”. Whether we take the approach of Waterfall, Spiral, RUP or Agile SDLC methodology, success is more certain when we break our larger goal(s) into smaller milestones and frequently measure our execution results with the plan. According to the report, 18% large scale projects are successful when adapting to Agile compared with Waterfall’s 3% success so notion of Agile not working for large projects is not necessarily a fact. 

#2. Agile does not work in some native cultures: 
There are few articles stating Agile does not work in places like Asia or Germany. Its the most generalized statement without acknowledging that we are more global than ever before and emotional maturity in an Organization is changing faster than ever before. Having lived and worked in countries including India, Japan, USA and Argentina, I have experienced various cultures and my learnings have been that its not as much about the culture of the native country as its about the culture of the Organization. In an earlier post Be Too Agile To Be Governed By Fear Of Change, I shared that Agile is all about adapting to change; it was built on the foundational principle that business drivers will change and the culture of Organization must be ready to adapt for it to be successful.

#3. Agile is getting more done in less: 
Agile is more about being focused on delivering value and ability to respond to changes. While practicing the principles of Agile, it does feel that we are improving productivity but thats a result of applying the right principles. Motivation of adopting to Agile with the expectation that more can be expected to get delivered from the same team, is not the right thought process. In my earlier post An Agilist Needs More Than Training To Succeed, I shared that implementing Agile in any Organization requires more than just knowing the terms or ceremonies.

#4. Agile works only with co-located teams: 
Its not as much about whether team is co-located or not but its more about how much the project team is involved in decision-making and information-gathering process. A remote team can be as successful provided the team is actively involved enough with more robust communication channel established. Communication channel is key, which would include transparent user feedback, requirements review, R &D effort, prototyping and other consensus-building tools. In one of my previous post Everyone's Perspective Is Key In Retrospectives, I shared that people with a different perspective can come up with some incredible ideas and its about the right feedback channels in place whether with resect to co-located or remote teams. 

#5. Agile works only with strong performers in the team: 
No team member comes to work to do a bad job and its usually the culture of an Organization or project team that usually fails performers. So it does not matter whether you are employing Agile or not, performance of project team is dependent on collective success more than individual heroics. Agile encourages cross functional teams to bring down silos and when the silos are rid of, collective performance improves as there is better sense of common goal(s). In my previous post 5 Tips on Strategizing Your Key Project Resources, I shared 5 tips on how to strategize your key project resources. 
IMHO its not about which SDLC methodology or Project Management practices you follow for successfully delivering quality services but its about the principles you embrace to achieve goals. ‘Being Agile’ is not about some practices or set of rules, its about how disciplined principles are applied to achieve strategic objectives. 

“There are no facts, only interpretations.” ― Friedrich Nietzsche

Share your thoughts in the comments section on the common concerns you have encountered while practicing Agile.