This article is a collection of conversations that demonstrates some of the tangible and intangible benefits of successful agile implementation. The idea grew from a corporate engagement to pilot agile methods in a heavy process-focused organization. We added conversations from other agile teams that demonstrate characteristics of successful implementation. Some of the conversations were written down during sprint retrospectives, but others were documented as part of a concerted effort to simply observe some of the behaviors and dialogues of collocated individuals in a real agile environment.
We are passionate about setting up successful agile implementations and watching empowered, self-organizing teams create real business value, giving the business unit a tangible competitive advantage. Juxtaposing this team behavior against behaviors learned in a process-focused, waterfall organization reveals the right way of solving empirical problems with smart people—rapid feedback is fundamental in a complex adaptive system. For organizations wanting to move to the lean/agile software development model, guidance from experienced professionals will help facilitate these types of conversations and ensure that the organization is adequately staged to lead agile teams with vision and right-sized, prioritized work.
Look for similar conversations in your agile organization to ensure that healthy teams are creating business value at the most rapid, sustainable pace.
Who Is Doing What?
Line manager to ScrumMaster, reflecting on successful software release...
Line manager: "I'm amazed at how the team can rally around stories and get them done with little or no task assignment. The team commits to the stories in the planning session, and then seems to get done whatever we make visible. When was the last time you assigned tasks to individuals on the team?"
ScrumMaster: "I've never had to..."
No One Had to Call Me ...
Sprint Retrospective: Developer was describing the benefits of constantly pairing up with team members and feeling confident that he not only understood all the code, but that his code was well understood by others. This developer just closed on a house, and had to take time off to do the normal closing and moving activities. This developer had previously worked on "Old Waterfall Project":
Developer: "I know that pairing up with different people works—with just a few days left in our sprint, I received no phone calls about my code while I was away, because the agile team understood it ... "Old Waterfall Project," however, called me twice for questions about code I wrote for "Old Waterfall Project."
Who Built This?
(Collocated team in open, agile area)
UI Designer (stands up, holding a screen shot): "Who built this?"
UI Developer: "I did."
UI Designer: "Come here a minute ..."
UI Designer and Developer point to a computer screen, have a quick discussion, and Developer says "OK," I'll fix it right now ..."