Wednesday, December 16, 2009

What's Your Point of View

As a Scotsman living in the US I take more than my fair share of trips through Heathrow airport. There are many things I enjoy about being back in the UK but Heathrow airport is certainly not one of them. For a while HSBC bank tried valiantly to cheer us up, as we trudged wearily from terminal to terminal, our journey made more colorful by the many posters from their What's Your Point of View campaign.

As an Agile Coach I am often confronted by different points of view.

If I am speaking to a group and criticize waterfall development there is a chance someone will feel I am disparaging their team or their efforts. Sometimes use of the word agile does not serve a good purpose. Many have negative perceptions of Agile and believe it to be chaotic, undisciplined and unpredictable.

As a coach it's not my job to fix negative perceptions of Agile. My passion is making teams and organizations successful. I like to steer away from the waterfall vs. agile discussion and instead focus on sharing what I see high performance teams and organizations doing.

  • Without knowing what value really is we can't reduce waste. A focus on customer valueanswers two key questions: a) who am I building this for; b) why am I building this. Once we have a keen sense of what value is we can then prioritize our work to deliver the highest value first.
  • By delivering early and often we give ourselves the best opportunity to beat the competition to market, realize revenue and discover insights that we can help us improve.
  • One of the biggest impediments to delivering early and often is the inability to reduce batch size and many teams struggle with this. This is a battle worth fighting.
  • Another impediment to delivering value is not pull testing forward. If we don't complete our work as we iterate then we are creating technical debt that will affect our ability to release.
  • Successful teams know it is best to take small incremental steps towards improvement and to establish a rhythm of continuous improvement. We don't try to define the perfect process, we don't set the bar too high and we continuously inspect and adapt.
  • As Émile Chartrier once said "nothing is more dangerous than an idea when you only have one". Successful teams and organizations know that to survive long-term they need to create a collaborative culture that fosters innovation and shared commitment.
Are these agile or lean principles. Some like to draw an ideological line between the two but like Wille Faler I don't believe that's a bottom-line discussion. Call them waterfall if you like so long as you're successful. You might not like the list and that's fine too. Make your own list but don't just pull it out of a book. Visit the gemba and come up with something visceral that your team can identify with.

1 comment:

jasmine said...

Hi there, awesome site. I thought the topics you posted on were very interesting. I tried to add your RSS to my feed reader and it a few. take a look at it, hopefully I can add you and follow.

Agile Coaching