I am often asked about Agile War Stories which made me think about the things that really impede agile transformations or just agility. Actually calling it ‘Agile’ can create high resistance in some organisations!
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The 3 Amigos is an 1986 American western comedy film starring Steve Martin (Lucky Day), Chevy Chase (Dusty Bottoms) and Martin Short (Ned Nederlander), three silent film stars who are mistaken for real heroes by a small Mexican village and must find a way to live up to that reputation.
Well, the 3 Amigos have crept into our Agile world as a meeting. Essentially, this is a meeting during which the business analyst (BA) presents the requirements and tests for a new feature. The Three Amigos (BA, developer, and QA) discuss the new feature and review the specification. The aim is to create a common understanding and shared vocabulary across these individuals.
This blog discusses the statement: 'Employing Agile transformation experts causes much less disruption to the business, is significantly cheaper and also enables delivery of much higher value IT products faster and more effectively.’
Or to put it another way, Agile’s easy – transformation isn’t.
WHY should I implement Agile?
OK, but WHY bother, surely transforming to Agile is a lot of hassle for little benefit?
The most efficient and effective method of conveying information to and within a development team is face-to-face conversation.
Yep, pretty much agree with that!
However, will this become a generation problem? 'What do you mean?', I hear you cry.
Be honest, have you ever said, there is no way I will ever text my kids, if I want to talk to my kids then I will do it face-to-face?
So, again being honest, who texts their kids? If you say no, then you are lying.
What is 'Vertical Slicing'
An oft quoted facet of all Agile approaches is ‘vertical slices’, the idea that we deliver working products (eg. software) frequently, in the best of worlds every few weeks, at the most every few months. The term ‘vertical slice’ means that we focus on delivering working end-to-end features that add value to the customer’s product
The opposite of vertical slicing is technically driven ‘horizontal slicing’ such as production of Functional Specifications or Databases or any other technically focussed delivery that adds no value to the customer in its’ own right.
This is the sort of conversation that I wished that my Agile Coach had with me when I was first contemplating implementing Agile.
"I want to implement Agile"
"Great. Why's that?"
"What do you mean?"
"Well, let me put it another way! Why do you want to implement Agile?"
"Because I do and someone told me that's it really cool"
"Okay. What problems are you trying to solve or, more importantly, what benefits do you hope to achieve?"
"I have absolutely no idea. Is that really important?" "Well, do you normally change something if there is no reason? Or, do you normally start a project without business value?"
"Of course not!"
"So, again, my question; why would you want to implement Agile if you don't know what you are trying to solve and you don't know the benefit you hope to achieve?"
"I guess you have a point!"
"That's good, because so do I"
When running training courses or coaching clients we are often asked how to initiate Agile deliveries, whether that is for an Agile project or product development effort. This could apply to the initiation of any type of delivery, whether a delivery capability improvement project, or implementing a new or improved IT system.
Regardless of the overall approach, we normally utilise a core technique from our transformation framework RITA (RITA Information technology Transformation Approach) called the ‘3 Wall Workshop’. The remainder of this blog will describe the 3 Wall Workshop within the context of initiating the delivery of an IT system rather than, for example, a delivery capability improvement project. If we were starting the delivery of a capability improvement project then the structure of the 3 Wall Workshop would be the same but the products being delivered would be different.
So, do you have kids? I do!
Did you go to antenatal classes? I did!
Did you read books on parenting? Yep!
Did you think you were fully prepared for parenthood? Of course I did. I mean what is all the fuss about, how difficult could it be!
Was it anything like you expected? Erh, NO!
Nothing can prepare you for your first baby. Thank heaven for my mother. Why? Because she had seen it all before, had years of experience raising my sister and I, and, as consequence, knew how to practically deal with situations with pragmatic advice and guidance that were often not covered in any book or class.