The Agility Revolution: It’s Here

Throughout the history of man-kind, we have innovated and strived to achieve maximum efficiency. In the 18th and 19th century we experienced the Industrial Revolution which streamlined agriculture and manufacturing through the use of technology and machinery. In the late 1990’s, the Information Age revolutionized¬†the accessibility of information with new communication channels and technologies like the internet and world-wide web. Most consider the Information Age as a period of process improvement and technology, but when you look closely, that’s not really what happened. This period was extremely inefficient and rarely delivered real value which is what paved the way to the dotcom bubble and the burst that soon followed. Cash was thrown around like it grew on trees, if you could fog a computer monitor you were a Senior Programmer, and technologies were developed without considering whether customers even existed. I do consider the Information Age to have been extremely valuable for the world; however, it was not about maximizing value.

The “this is too good to be true” bubble burst in the early 2000’s and challenging economic periods followed. These times have motivated organizations to seek ways to increase efficiency while delivering more faster than the dotcom gold rush. Everyday I observe our technology industry take steps to improve and at the recent Microsoft Partner ALM Summit this was very apparent in multiple areas. Microsoft has been and is committed to improving software development through Scrum, Application Lifecycle Management (ALM) and development tools. Agility in the development process increases deliverable value, reduces development cost and accelerates the time-to-market. At the other end of the technology and software development space, Microsoft’s Cloud strategy is boosting efficiency by eliminating huge upfront investments in infrastructure, reducing management costs and shortening provisioning time to accelerate time-to-market while enabling massive scale to appropriately accommodate demand. Gluing these improvements together, Microsoft, Apple and other industry leaders continue to innovate the mobile connected workforce, through smartphones, tablets and other mobile devices.

Our industry appears to be in an Agility Revolution and all of these efforts are increasing agility in a lot of ways which ultimately leads to increased value for everyone. If you are in the middle of this revolution and are increasing agility in your organizations practices, exploring the cloud and looking for opportunities to enable your workforce to stay connected wherever they are, pat yourself on the back and keep innovating. If you are not because you’re not sure where to begin, this is what I recommend.

Agile Practices

Agile ManifestoPrinciples of the Agile Manifesto
The first place I would recommend is the Agile Manifesto. In February, 2001, a group of seventeen thought leaders in our industry gathered on a ski trip and out of that the Agile Manifesto was born.

  • Individuals and interactions over processes and tools
  • Working software over comprehensive documentation
  • Customer collaboration over contract negotiation
  • Responding to change over following a plan

These four statements are simple and seem like common sense. But, when you drop your guard and truly consider them, are you headed in the opposite direction? You should consider these principles as you walk through your agile journey and your steps should align.

Scrum.org – Scrum Guide
The next place to check out would be Scrum.org. Scrum.org is an organization founded by Ken Schwaber who is one of the creators of Scrum. Their purpose is to help organizations with knowledge, training and implementation of Scrum in order to improve the software development profession. Now you might be asking yourself, what is Scrum? I have good news, Scrum.org provides a FREE 21-page Scrum Guide and it is a great, concise overview of the Scrum Framework and whether Scrum is a new term or you have experience with Scrum, it is a good read.

Agile Project Management with Scrum
If you are the type that likes a good book to gain knowledge, Agile Project Management with Scrum by Ken Schwaber is for you. This book will provide you with rules and practices for implementing Scrum through a series of case studies and real-world lessons with successes and failures for you to learn from.

Partner with Success

Once you decide to set sail on your journey and begin organizational transformation, partner with a successful agile consultancy. I strongly believe that this is critical to be successful with agile adoption. I intentionally chose the word partner and in order to be effective, you need a solid partnership.  You need a team who is there to guide you and help you through the complex issues that come with this significant culture change. Your partner should be able to demonstrate previous successes, provide training, consulting, long-term coaching and a team to jump start your development project. Agile adoption is not an overnight makeover and you need to be prepared to run the race and not expect a short dash.

These are my suggestions for getting started with agile and I will continue my thoughts about the Agile Revolution and Cloud Computing in follow-on post.