January 2007

Monthly Archive

If You Don’t Change “IT”, How Can “IT” Get Better

Posted by on 22 Jan 2007 | Tagged as: Agile, Scrum

It has been a very exciting month for me here in the Puget Sound area. My son was born on December 23rd at 1:59am and we named him Amun, which means ‘peace’. He is beautiful and my wife is doing great. It is probably obvious why I have not been blogging lately. Here it goes and lets see if I can spew something coherent.

In between timing contractions, being there for the delivery, and irregular sleep I started pondering a very simple question. If organizations, executive management, architects, developers, QA, project managers, and business analysts all keep doing things the same way in IT, how could they expect to improve the results of their work over time. All improvement comes with change and it is best to make these changes as a result of real data.

There are many times that I sit down with teams who want to implement “Agile” but have too many constraints surrounding their projects to enable successful change. Some of the constraints I have heard in the past include:

  • We are using an architecture which is being developed by another team using Waterfall and they are right on time. We are finding it difficult to know when they are going to be delivering any functionality that we may need for our Scrum teams to use.
  • The person we identified as our Product Owner is not able to dedicate much time to the project. Will this cause any issues.
  • Our QA team is within another part of the organization and can not dedicate resources (I like the word ‘people’ here) to any one project.
  • The production operations organization can not deploy releases every month. It takes too much time to review and accept an application through our deployment procedures.
  • QA must be independent of our development organization due to regulatory compliance. We don’t want the QA team to be influenced through their friendship with a developer.
  • Product Owner – “I am not sure what the value of this feature is but it was asked for from somebody above me.”
  • We already do most of the things in Scrum already. I guess we can just keep doing things the same way.
  • and there are many more…

When coaching any team or organization about what “Agile” can be for them it is imperative from the start to set the correct expectations. In order to gain the benefits of Scrum, XP, or any other “Agile” method we must understand how the Agile Values and Principles are going to affect our team or organization. No longer will we be able to hide our dysfunctions (hey, we all have them) behind project plans, risk mitigation strategies, and lengthy release schedules. We must deal with our dysfunctions each day and find ways to improve our team and supporting environment. Over time, the change will become less frequent and impactful as we better understand where we actually stand. From here we can see more clearly how to align the vision and goals of our organization with the dreams and aspirations of our team members. This will give the group power and agility to attain audacious goals through excellence in product delivery, productivity, and quality.

Now back to the fun stuff. Changing a diaper. 😉 Have a great New Year everyone! I am already having one!