I recently had the pleasure of attending two single-day conferences focused on the Agile development methodology, Agile Philly and Agile D.C. I have been in the software industry the majority of my 20-year career and these conferences reminded me a lot of various professional experiences I’ve had over the years where I was selling a paradigm shift or disruptive change countering the usual modus operandi.
In general, the recipe for change for these shifts tends to include:
- Tremendous Passion [You embody and live what you preach]
- Unlimited High Energy [As if you had an I.V. drip of caffeine 24x7]
- Junkyard Dog Tenacity [Where failure = valuable feedback and another opportunity to iterate success]
- Infectious Enthusiasm [“Why is this dude always so happy and excited about this?”]
- Unwavering Faith [When everyone else looks at you as if you’re crazy, yet you still believe you are on the right path]
- A Dash of Luck [There needs to be a little Irish in all of us]
In both conferences I attended, it was absolutely obvious which folks in attendance were Agile practitioners – they had all of the above ingredients.
Zealot / “zeal·ot” - a person who is fanatical and uncompromising in pursuit of their religious, political, or other ideals.
I definitely found myself in the company of Agile Zealots, and I use this term in a complimentary way. Just like Moses came down from the mountain with the Ten Commandments, the Agile methodology has its own manifesto with 12 commandments and a dedicated website to remind us all what those are.
These Agile conferences, which take place nationally, remind me of localized crusades into corporate America’s IT departments to evangelize and convert managers and developers into disciples. I think these types of conferences are fantastic! And just to be clear, during an open question-and-answer session, I asked, “Are there any particular circumstances or projects where Agile doesn’t make sense?” (Before asking the question I definitely made sure I was close to an exit with no obstructions!) The whole room turned to look at me, but the panel appreciated the question and did not proceed to stone me in the town square; instead, it provided an excellent answer with various scenarios where Agile may not make sense. Bravo!
Agile is an excellent methodology and everything about it makes logical sense. However, as we all know, change is not easy and adopting Agile requires lots of changes organizationally and, most important, culturally. This change includes thinking of your organization as horizontal rather than vertical, as well as putting into place an Agile workforce development plan, which requires management sponsorship. This is very hard and I certainly heard stories while attending these conferences of disasters and successes. All success stories had tremendous heartache and pain, but their businesses, products and customers are far better off having gone through the metamorphosis.
Just like most transformational things in life, the process to obtain success is not a light switch and may take years to achieve. However, if the entire organization embraces the recipe for change above, then converting from the old to Agile will be a lot quicker and easier – but not without failures along the way. Those who believe in the Agile manifesto and succeed in its implementation will obtain a powerful weapon to outmaneuver those who don’t.
Of course, we're always here to help your organization effectively embrace Agile. Questions? Just ask!
PSC Vice President, DCG Sales