Today I want to talk about what agile means to me. I mean there is a standardised definition which I’ve quoted below from the agile manifesto. But, I think for most of us, being agile means that we can move quickly and break things. It means that we reduce risk to our businesses by being able to change course at the drop of a hat. It means that product development is ongoing and we’re continually improving and redefining what the product is. It means we’re delivering business value as fast as possible.
Individuals and interactions over processes and tools.
Working software over comprehensive documentation.
Customer collaboration over contract negotiation.
Responding to change over following a plan.
Individuals and interactions over processes and tools
If we take the first point, in my mind, that means that we should just talk to each other. It means that we shouldn’t have all the bureaucracy that comes with larger firms. We shouldn’t need to go to managers to get an approval to talk to another team. We should be able to just do it without anyone looking at you sideways. We shouldn’t rely on what’s written in JIRA when the guy who wrote the stuff in JIRA is sitting next to you.
Working software over comprehensive documentation
I know some people who love to document. They write comments in their code and the requirements lists are ten pages long. But requirements change. You don’t need to write that huge document or workflow diagram at the very start. What you thought or plan might not even be needed. That’s not to say you shouldn’t write anything – but the documentation you write should provide value to the team – something that’ll speed up development.
Customer collaboration over contract negotiation
I think again this comes down to talking with your customer rather than renegotiating terms when something in the scope changes. Your customer doesn’t necessarily have to be external. It could be your Product Owner or your stakeholders. You just need to be open and honest when communicating with them. Let them know when the scope changes or when you realise you don’t need that component you’ve been working on for a few weeks. People are understanding.
Responding to change over following a plan
We all make plans. Agile doesn’t necessarily just apply to IT. Let’s say you’re planning a wedding – the agile way. Let’s say you’ve got your wedding day. You’re planning to get married on a beach. It rains and the tide’s in. You can follow your plan – and get wet and see your set being washed away. Or-or you can respond to the change in weather and get married at your bach with the stormy beach as a scene behind your vows. It’s not what you expected – or what you originally wanted. But you got married. That’s the main thing. You don’t have to follow your original plan if things change.
Being agile can mean many things. Whether you’re Scrum, Kanban, or any other flavour, you’re probably agile. If you’re doing a waterfall – you’re probably not agile. Most of what is said above are just what you should favour. It doesn’t mean that you have to do it. You do need some sort of plan, you do need some sort of negotiation, you do need some sort of documentation, and you do need some processes and tools in place. But you should do more of the left side and less of the right. It’ll help you in the long run.
Reposted on Medium.