As I mentioned in a previous blog post, I have next to no experience with Agile, but I have gone through the Certified Scrum Master course (at my own expense) and I have read quite a number of books, not specifically on Agile, but on lean in manufacturing and the Toyota Production System.
Since I have next to no experience, but a willingness to learn on my own, I have an idolized view of how Agile should work. This may be a good thing as my view isn’t disillusioned from a failed Agile implementation, nor have have I had Agile forced on me so I’m not trying to fight it.
I’m currently reading “Lean Thinking” by Womack and Jones and one of the common themes in implementing Lean is that it is hard. Very hard. Everything is against the implementation. Processes are challenged and broken, ways of doing things a completely changed. Problems within the manufacturing process are brought to light. It is the same thing with Agile and I think that is what is missed when companies decide to “go agile”. There is a period of time where productivity goes down, things slow down. Especially if you do not have a guide to get you through the process. This I am guessing is because people hold on to the old ways of doing things. Habits are hard to break. Problems are uncovered that were previously hidden and management doesn’t like it. Basically, lean and agile are easy to fail at.
At this point, it looks like Agile is a failure. My thoughts are, that if you do not fight through this period by addressing the problems that caused the failures and just give up or change the process to make it “easier”, then in the long run,you don’t get the full benefits.
In other words, you need to get through Hell before you can get to heaven.
Also, if you think, being experienced programmers, you should be able to do better…
As I’m writing this, I’m watching Hell’s Kitchen. Here, you have a effectively a game show where chefs compete for a job with Gordon Ramsey and lead one of his restaurants.
These are experienced chefs (mostly) who are put through a high intense period over regular intervals. Not unlike a sprint in scrum. These are experienced chefs put under a situation they are not use to, and they initially fail. And they fail regularly. Quality is not there..they make a mess of themselves. Not unlike a first few agile implementations. Those that survive the process, get better. They learn. Those that don’t learn, don’t get better and are given their marching orders.
At the end of the process, the chefs are much better, both skills wise and personally.
This, I think is not unlike going agile.