Nobody is interested in Agile
Would you buy a car because the manufacturer uses Lean Manufacturing process, Just-in-Time production or tools such as Value Stream Mapping, Kanban and Poka-Yoke? If you answered “yes” because you thought of Toyota, then I need to ask you to think again and answer the question as it is stated. Would you buy a car based on the “way” it is manufactured or would you purchase it for the benefits it provides?
Let me help you a little with the answer. Although many authors describe in great length the amazing methods used by Toyota to ensure quality of their vehicles, people started to buy Toyotas in the ’70s when the energy crisis hit the US hard. The manufacturing methods were the same but suddenly the benefits (reducing gas consumption) became very apparent. Even at that, it took Toyota over 40 years to become the number one car manufacturer in the world.
What does this have to do with selling Agile, Scrum or XP to organizations? A few things actually. Search Google for terms such as “why use agile” or “why use scrum” and what you will find are power point presentations and blog posts explaining WHAT Agile is, Scrum and XP are but very little information on the benefits, the WHY – which was the question in the first place.
This interesting situation may be linked to the fact that most of the people originally associated with Agile were engineers and technologists. The original intent behind the Agile principles (and the manifesto) were to address a perceived weakness with the software development process (WHAT) and, as such, put most of the focus on documenting an improved approach to software development. Many of the software engineering practices to come about are great ways of improving software development but traction is slow. Will it take 40 years for agile principles and innovative engineering practices to dethrone the traditional waterfall development process?
We need to use a better method of promoting agility. Notice how I didn’t say selling agility. Selling implies that someone is pushing for someone else to purchase. As such, if we want to increase the adoption of agility within organization, we need to show benefits. This is even truer since very few of the decision makers are engineers and don’t come from a highly technical background. Decision makers need to understand the benefits or the ROI before they would agree to move to a different approach so we need to show them the benefits, the WHY.
I’m stopping here for today but an upcoming post will present the benefits of applying agile principles to your software development project.