Friday, August 2, 2013

Understanding the “Why?”

"Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?"
"That depends a good deal on where you want to get to," said the Cat.
"I don't much care where –" said Alice.
"Then it doesn't matter which way you go," said the Cat.
"– so long as I get somewhere," Alice added as an explanation.
"Oh, you're sure to do that," said the Cat, "if you only walk long enough."

I've written a couple of blog posts on understanding the principles of Agile, the “book version”, as it were, in order to achieve the success that is associated with Agile. If you've been in the Agile arena for any significant amount of time, you know there are a lot of disagreements as to the “How” of Agile. There are many different methodologies, frameworks, tools, and practices out there to support Agile teams. Some believe this is because people simply disagree on how to best implement Agile and, in some cases, this is true. Others understand Agile was never intended to be “One Size Fits All”. There are many options because there are many teams and each team must determine what solution works best for them – and evolve that solution over time in the spirit of Continuous Improvement.

This means you cannot determine “How” you want to implement Agile until you understand the needs of the team. “We need to have a Daily Scrum.” Why? If you can’t answer this then it’s not going to bring as much benefit as it should. If you understand the Daily Scrum as a touch-point to align across team members; identify risks and dependencies the team is encountering; and jump-start communication that will occur throughout the day then it becomes a stale and stagnant status update meeting.

My recommendation to Agile teams, and all human beings for that matter, is to not adopt something without understanding the “Why?” behind it. True Agile teams do not do things for the sake of doing them. They do them for a reason and nothing is sacred; if a tool or practice outlives its usefulness then it must be “put out to pasture” so as to not get in the way of the team’s continued growth. By regularly re-evaluating the usefulness of your current implementation, you also get the benefit of being open to new things. No matter how good your team is, they will never be as good as the team they could be.

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