The Agile Tribe

Mistakes… I’ve made a few

on July 20, 2009

Author: Andy Marks

One of the challenges I come across delivering Agile training is trying to get a handle on how well people are receiving the content before the course finishes and we all go our separate ways.  For Agile Academy training, we have feedback forms that we ask participants to complete at the end of each course, but sometimes this is far too late!  As Exhibit A, I would like to present one of my most disappointing moments during training…

The location was Brisbane, the timing was early 2009 and the course was focusing on the application of Agile practices and thinking to legacy environments.  This type of work is far from the sweet spot of Agile so the course has traditionally been an exhausting one to deliver and this one was no different.  However, the proverbial kick to my groin came during perusal of the feedback forms, where I came across…

“We are already as Agile as we can be”, was the comment.

“Oh, s*?!”, was my immediate thought.

Now before I get in too deep, my principal metric for successful Agile adoption is a demonstrable desire towards continuous improvement (from the lean concept of “Kaizen” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Continuous_Improvement_Process).  I don’t particularly care how much you’ve adopted the practices, principles and values right now… what I do care about is that you’re constantly looking at everything you do with a view to improve, improve, improve!

Big improvements or small improvements.  Don’t care.

Quick improvements or gradual improvements.  Not fussed.

Big bang improvements or iterative improvements.  Meh!  Although I must admit I do lean towards the iterative

So a statement like “we are already as Agile as we can be” just smacks of someone who believes they are “there”, whatever that means.

So, in the tradition of the oft-repeated Woodstock quote “If you remember Woodstock, you weren’t really there”, I give you:

“If you think you’ve finished becoming Agile, you really haven’t”.

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