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Agile's Next Wave: Transforming the Business

by Christopher Goldsbury on Feb 13, 2012 |

 As the software development world continues to ripen agile practices and techniques, the business world is feeling the bow shock of agile's impact. A recent report by Forrester highlights that yesterday's agile was about improving software development, but today's challenge and opportunity lie in transforming the entire software value chain to elicit benefit. This shift in direction affects capital budgeting, vendor management, product management, stakeholder feedback, and operations.  According to the report:

 

From the very beginning, Agile's ultimate goal was to deliver higher-value software, but to reach this goal, Agile practitioners first had to make development teams better at building software without regard to its value. These changes created disturbances in the rest of the value stream. Therefore, the goal of the second stage in Agile's history, the era in which we now live, is a new set of practices to define how the development team and other groups work together. Lean Thinking figures prominently in this phase, as do new practices such as continuous delivery and improvements to user experience (UX).

 

VentureBeat also summarized the report:

 

It is still very much about teams getting better at building software, but it’s also becoming more about moving the rest of the business forward. So today, there are two concurrent states of Agile. There is the traditional state where most companies are looking at Agile as the new software development approach and making statements like ‘we need to go agile’. And there’s the state where companies are applying Agile to areas within the organization such as, portfolio management, project management, vendor management, contracting, etc. 

The recent 10 year anniversary of the agile manifesto and the subsequent set of reflections and four key focus areas for the future also  target this new paradigm: 

 

The future of agile is to expand beyond the creation of software and expand beyond the confines of the IT group. Just about every company you speak to says they are going to adopt Agile IT practices. The opportunity is to take what the Agile movement has learned about organizing teams and collaborating on complex projects and continuously responding to changing requirements and apply these principles to redesign the way whole companies operate. 

But as agile moves further into the business world...will it survive unchanged?  It seems unlikely.  The manifesto itself underwent a proposal, by Scott W. Ambler and others, to rework it that reflects less of a software focus; making it more general in application. Ultimately, it was decided to keep the manifesto “as is”....for now.  

Skills and abilities too are facing pressure.  The growth of agile coaching since the late 2000s, the recognition and introduction of an agile certification by the PMI, and the expansion of certification in agility to other roles by groups like ICAgile may illustrate how agilists are evolving to embrace this emerging new front. 

While the business world ponders the novelty of stand ups the earth may be moving beneath their feet.  The recent Stoos gathering may prove to be the seminal event that catalyzes the vault of agility throughout the business, corporate culture. 

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Agile Manifesto by Udayan Banerjee

With this shift happening how valid will the Agile Manifesto remain? Do we need to re-look at it? Can Agile@Scale follow Agile@Manifesto completely?

setandbma.wordpress.com/2011/12/28/scaling-agile/

Agile Manifesto by Udayan Banerjee

With this shift happening how valid will the Agile Manifesto remain? Do we need to re-look at it? Can Agile@Scale follow Agile@Manifesto completely?

setandbma.wordpress.com/2011/12/28/scaling-agile/

Reinventing history by Dan Creswell

"From the very beginning, Agile's ultimate goal was to deliver higher-value software, but to reach this goal, Agile practitioners first had to make development teams better at building software without regard to its value. These changes created disturbances in the rest of the value stream. Therefore, the goal of the second stage in Agile's history, the era in which we now live, is a new set of practices to define how the development team and other groups work together. Lean Thinking figures prominently in this phase, as do new practices such as continuous delivery and improvements to user experience (UX)."

That's Forrester's characterisation of history but it's wrong. Agile yesterday and today has always been about changing the whole business culture, most however have focused purely on the technical. Take a look at the principles underlying the manifesto:

agilemanifesto.org/principles.html

Customers, business people, sponsors, environment. All the elements that say this is something that goes beyond technical teams are there. However, the focus of many has been the technical, presumably as that reflects much of existing corporate mindset where software development is black boxed and it's up to technical people to get better as the business is just fine as it is, thank you.

To summarise, Agile like much else has been seen by many as nothing more than technical improvement or a silver bullet process as opposed to a cultural shift. That common misunderstanding is being manifested by Forrester and others, no surprise, analysts playing catchup rather than leading as usual.

For something that IMO is closer to the truth see this: www.sdtimes.com/blog/post/2011/11/11/Agile-slav...

Then check out:

Re: Agile Manifesto by Mark Levison

Odd I really don't see which parts of the manifesto don't stand up. In fact I think the news item interesting in that it needs to exist at all. Agile methods have always been intended to transform the entire business. It typically gets applied to IT because that's the easiest place to start. As Dan said the analyst appears to be a bit late to the party.

Cheers
Mark Levison
Certified Scrum Trainer | Agile Pain Relief Consulting
agilepainrelief.com/

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