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The end of the agile evangelist

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Agile development focuses on only doing work that helps directly to deliver a software product. Central to the philosophy of this approach is maximising work not done. This translates into: not having to create documents just for the sake of compliance and governance.

Agile relies on frequent small iterations to a product that is continuously evaluated and developed. Teams are self-organising and adapt their processes to maximise output. This often creates a mismatch with budgeting and reporting processes that have established themselves around a traditional delivery life-cycle. For Agile to work effectively, processes need to be adaptable and encourage everyone involved to focus on what the process is trying to achieve and not simply adherence to a particular development methodology. The Agile evangelist (and there usually is one somewhere in the organisation) emerges as the champion of the 'New Way', enthusiastically expounding the virtues of Agile and how it can improve delivery performance. If it was easy then there would be no need for this type of over-enthusiastic behaviour to develop. So what's the alternative? We think it could be "Lean".

The Lean approach shares a common philosophy with Agile but it address issues across the organisation, not just in software delivery. Lean aims to create more value for less work; eliminating waste. It enables organizations to plan according to demand. It promotes a planning cycle that's much closer to delivery: planning for small pieces of work, delivering it, and then planning the next piece. By focusing on the whole organisation, changing its structure, its processes and its whole attitude to value and waste, creates an environment that is consistent with, and encourages the use of agile development methods, enabling Agile to thrive rather than struggling to survive. If your organisation embraces Lean you can say good bye to your Agile evangelist!

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John Prideaux

Leading Digital Consulting at Wisereach

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