Recently I have presented at Agile Comes To You in Bellevue, San Jose and Dallas. At these seminars Electric Cloud, Rally and AccuRev present our take on agile and how our solutions can help facilitate agile adoption. The series has been extremely interesting to me for a couple of reasons:
• I attended this evening to twice in Seattle as both a prospect and then a customer of AccuRev and was first introduced to ElectricCloud a few years ago at the event and am now presenting at that event.
• The same questions are being asked now as we’re being asked in 2009 and 2010 when I attended the event.
I’ll admit that I really like this seminar series. Presenting at an event I had previously attended was fun and I hope we were as informative as the presentations were a few years ago.
Sometimes we are asked tool specific questions and other times like in Dallas today the questions are about how to roll out agile successfully. The agile journey is as challenging as ever because organizational change is required and not just in the engineering teams. Trying to explain to accounting that existing yearly budgeting processes will be an impediment as you become more agile. Look very closely, stare into their eyes and see the circuits frying in their brains as they try to comprehend what has been said!
Don’t get too excited by that thought, there will be people in your own teams who will be terrified of the transparency and accountability that agile methodologies bring. The same circuit frying that you noticed the accountants experience will be experienced by members on your teams. You might hear variations on the following:
• I can’t possibly work on this task without a detailed requirements document.
• The task can’t be broken up into smaller chunks, this really is one giant user story that will take months, agile isn’t practical.
• Look I’m done, as the developer checks in code in the last few minutes of the iteration without giving anyone time to test.
At the same time you will hopefully hear the following from product owners and executives
• I really like the visibility into the project.
• The progress you are making in each iteration is great, I can actually see progress being made in the demos.
• Congratulations on getting the release out on time, here’s a nice fat bonus!
I really believe that for the most part adopting agile methodologies will help you be successful and can result in some very close knit teams with members sharing responsibility and less finger pointing. Hopefully the atmosphere that evolves will result in a “can do” attitude and a fertile ground for innovation.
A product manager I once worked with frequently states
“Perception is everything”
I could ignore those words as he is a quirky Yorkshire man, but the fact is the shiny stuff counts. When you finish that cool piece of functionality that only engineers are smart enough to understand find a simple way to demonstrate it to the rest of us, if you can’t get into the habit of demonstrating progress your agile journey may not be as smooth as it could be.