Remember this sales campaign for orange juice? It started back in the early 80’s, as an attempt to boost sales. It was almost stating the obvious or giving permission to drink orange juice at anytime of the day. Imagine that!
This is how I see the world of Agile, especially in an enterprise context. “It’s not just for small projects or pilot projects anymore!” We as Agile Evangelists need to get the word out, and give our clients and employers permission to ‘agilify’ most any project! I would correllate this to non-software projects, as well.
Let’s tackle the enterprise first. Technology has bridged gaps that Ken, Mike, and the boys wrestled with that fateful February back in 2001. The ability to work with distributed teams almost as if they were working at the next cube over is upon us. The scaling ‘nut’ has been a tough one to crack too- but we’re there. Multiple teams, multiple projects; multiple teams, single project; dozens of teams, 2 projects- you name it, it’s out there and working. Scaling is often misunderstood to be representative of taking the agility out of agile projects. More clearly, we understand today, that if we are going to scale agile projects successfully, we need to keep the same virtues in view as we do with one team. Visibility, Collaboration, Trust.
Let’s switch gears to non-software projects. ‘We’re a manufacturing shop.’ ‘We’re a service provider.’ ‘We don’t necessarily do software.’ I’ve heard them all, and I would offer back- the agile roots that we understand today weren’t always nurtured in a software environment. In fact, you could say that the earliest documented instances of agility were cited back in the late 40’s in Japan, while rebuilding their infrasturcture. Talk about a situation where you had to make the most of the labor you had, and prevent the stockpiling of waste.
Coming back to our virtues. Visibility will always remove the fear of doubt from agile pundits. Collaboration will prevent long stretches of time with incorrect information from elapsing. And trust, while it is developed, is the cornerstone of highly functioning team, in a mom n’ pop agile shop, or otherwise.
I’m making waffles!