With agile techniques well established in the software development domain, there is a growing discussion on how to bring the those techniques to other problem domains. "What types of projects are suitable for agile?" is a common question that many agile proponents, including myself (Not Suitable for Agile?), are attempting to answer.
Often, that discussion is too "practice" focused and the question really becomes "can you use agile software development practices for other kinds of projects?", although it is rarely stated so directly. The answer of course, is no. You'd be silly to try. That is akin to working very hard to perfect your baseball swing, and then trying out for the football team.
We need to realize that the agile software development practices that exist today are the result of an evolution toward agile principles over at least the last decade. It is not the result of that evolution that we should consider moving to other problem domains, but rather the evolution itself.
What principles do I mean?
- Engaging the business directly - we need to clearly understand business objectives and priorities
- PrinciplesEmbracing changes in business priorities - the business is constantly shifting in order to respond to or lead its market; our related work needs to shift as well
- Creating self-organizing teams - teams that are jointly accountable for solving business problems; not just completing a pre-defined set of work
- Delivering incrementally - so we can validate the work we are doing is actually solving the business problem we are trying to solve
- Shortening the feedback - so we can incorporate our learning about the work we do, and how we do it, as soon as we learn it
Beneath these principles lie the behaviors of collaboration and discovery, and the focus of agile software development practices is to unleash those behaviors.
Culture/Process BalanceOur organizations and teams evolve everyday with each decision made and task completed. We have a choice in the direction of that evolution. We can opt to evolve toward the values, principles and behaviors of agility that unleash our teams, or we can choose to evolve toward the more process focused world of practices, controls and tools that constrain our teams. How will we balance culture versus process; collaboration versus compliance; discovery versus the status quo.
Where is YOUR evolution headed?