Agile IT Practice Agile Business Practice; Can Agile Purists Be Satisfied?
Is Agile an IT only practice or can it also be a business practice and will so called Agile ‘purists’ ever accept the idea? That is the question Ryn Melberg tackles this week on her weekly ‘The Guardian’ podcast. The Guardian can be heard on Soundcloud, iTunes, or on her web site, www.rynmelberg.com..
According to Ryn, the basis of this dispute seems to have evolved from the original discussion that yielded the Agile Manifesto and the fact that the people involved were not in agreement. “Some of those involved were just not aligned when it came to the use of Agile,” Ryn told her audience. “Some only believed that this was appropriate for use in the software industry and have not changed those views while others thought it was O.K. to use it elsewhere. This seems to be the root of the problem.”
A Sprint Is Still A Sprint
Regardless of differing opinions about how and where to use Agile, a focus on specific activities in a set period of time describes a sprint. So listeners and newcomers to Agile wonder, does it really matter if someone is writing code or writing product descriptions whether it is acceptable to call them both sprints? According to Ryn, it shouldn’t matter. “When the science behind employee work under Agile is reviewed, there are big productivity gains in functions other than code writing, like marketing,” Ryn said. “They get all the benefits plus more customer engagement. That it works so well is why the use of Agile continues to gain popularity.”
The Agile practice of frequent customer feedback is useful to garment manufacturers or computer programmers. Why the reticence to allow others the use of these terms? Ryn believes that it may be something like territory and that some people like the idea of an exclusive application; this is ours not yours. It could also be that some of the principles of Agile are getting watered down and not just another fad where Agile looses its value. “In applications where there is no product produced like in legal or H.R. I can see the challenge of calling these things Agile,” Ryn said. “It is possible that in places like this the purists have a point and that not all areas of work are right for Agile.”
Who Will Win The Argument?
According to Ryn, software purists will lose this argument because when there are benefits for others and someone tries to keep it exclusive it never works. “Things like scrum will work in lots of places,” she said. “But practices from XP will not. But if they did the world would be working hard to imitate XP the same way they are Agile.”
Where Should Agile Purists Work?
Ryn believes that Agile purists will be unhappy in non-software product companies where they are required to use Agile methods. She believes that for their own good and the good of those around them, they should work in places where software is the main product. “Steer them away from organizations that are using Agile in a wider way because they will be miserable and will make the people around them miserable as well,” Ryn said. “Point them at companies that make software as the product like game and app companies. In corporations or small business they will likely not be as happy or just be miserable and life is already difficult enough.”
The Guardian Podcast with Ryn Melberg is the only weekly program devoted to the principles of Agile, Scrum, SAFe, and governance issues that result from these practices.