Lumbering Giants Can’t Dance

It’s a dirty little secret but but there really is a big glaring hole in the whole agile software movement in large American businesses and this guy nails it. The businesses built around the software that most agile teams write aren’t actually agile at all and that’s important. The agile teams I’ve worked on have been small and isolated to the team and possibly a couple of supporting managers. The enterprise as a whole isn’t agile and because it’s not, agile typically fails to deliver what it promises. As that article says, you have to “embrace continuous integration of the enterprise” for agile to succeed and American business isn’t ready for that. A 2 month QA cycle at the end of the project isn’t agile. One month of preparing for deployment isn’t agile. At its heart, agile is successful when the entire operation is agile. Toyota didn’t revolutionize car manufacturing through Lean by applying it to hybrid engine design. It was the total company.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m still a big fan of agile. But in my meager experience with it, if the enterprise isn’t agile, the team isn’t really agile either. They’re just pretending. There’s plenty of benefits to that pretending but the real gains from agile aren’t being recognized. In the end, the pretending sabotoges the entire process. If you can’t ship at the end of the sprint, you aren’t really “done”. If you can’t hand the product to a customer and say “Happy working”, you aren’t really “done”. Continuous integration of the enterprise really is important and it’s so difficult to do that inertia takes over. With that kind of weight sitting on top of a team, the agile process is just a facade. It provides some protection to the team but it doesn’t provide the benefits it could. Maybe agile is just still way ahead of its time.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *