Wednesday, 29 April 2015

Are We Nearly There Yet: The Agile Struggle

My four year old twins are sat in the back of the car, asking "Are we nearly there yet?"

This would seem a reasonable question, but the answer isn't the one they're looking for - we've only just turned out of the end of our street at the start of a three hour journey. So I encourage them to look out of the window and tell me what they can see and soon they're enjoying spotting ponies in the New Forest.

At work, people sometimes ask "How agile are we?"... essentially "Are we nearly there yet?", but agile is a journey not a destination. Agile is a set of ideas that help you with the steps along the way, not a fixed state to be attained.

Even the project you're working on usually won't come to a deliberate fixed end. There may be a short period of bootstrapping to get to an MVP, followed by a much longer period of iterative improvements. The end is most likely a decommissioning of servers that have become irrelevant; a whimper rather than a bang.

A philosophy is not a way of reaching death as efficiently as possible, it's a way of getting the most value out of the life you live.

Don't be disheartened if your agile practice doesn't seem to be going smoothly. Agility requires a constantly self-doubting critical eye that doesn't accept the status quo and questions everything. If, day to day, you don't have disputes about the right way to do things, then you're probably not working in an agile team. When the process becomes static, you may have a simple life, but you really aren't delivering the best value to the business or yourself.

You will never reach agile nirvana, but you may find enlightenment and a sense of tranquillity along the way, because the way you handle the bumps on the winding road makes them seem flatter and the curves smoother.