specialized topics and are willing to share that information with others. They are the people we rely on to keep us informed and connected with the world around us.
In his book, Gladwell references Mark Alpert, a professor at the University of Texas, McCombs School of Business. Alpert is a market maven, perpetually tracking the prices of products, analyzing the best deals for houses, cars, or household items. In addition, he has a remarkable and compulsive urge to help other with this knowledge. He is a maven and mavens want to educate, not to sell.
In a software group, you must identify and enlighten the maven in order to spread the word of agile. Agile concepts will excite the maven who will relentlessly learn about the topic. At the same time the maven will be motivated to pass that knowledge onto other team members. They are the first ones to investigate the newly introduced agile trends and report their findings to teammates. The maven could be a manager, a senior developer, or a business analyst. Get the maven on your team on board and success will be more likely.
The salesman is an individual who builds and instant connection with people. Their mannerisms, personality, and presence are socially contagious. Unlike, the connector, they need not be well connected with everyone in the organization. Due to their social persuasion, salesmen have extremely effective negotiating skills. Their positive non-verbal cues entice others to follow their lead. They are just plain likable.
For an idea to spread on a software team, enlist the Salesman to help you out. This person doesn't have to be an expert at Agile. They just have to be excited about it. Their personality and positivity for the idea will be caught be others. In fact, you may have to play the role of salesman!
The Stickiness Factor
The second agent of change identified by Gladwell is the stickiness factor. We all believe that the inherent quality of the ideas we present is the key factor in determining adoption. Often this is not the case. There are many documented instances where agile has failed, and we all stand to believe that the main concepts of agile are not the problem.
The stickiness factor is not the content of the message, rather a "subtle but significant change in presentation that makes the content memorable." The essence of the stickiness factor is best illustrated by Gladwell's example of the children's show Blue’s Clues , which for a short period of time, was wildly more successful than Sesame Street . Blue's Clues cut out all the contemporary references and sophisticated jokes that Sesame Street often delivered. Thus kids' attention for the show did not wane due to comments that were over their head. Kids paid closer attention to Blue's Clues for the duration of the show, and thus the show received better ratings than Sesame Street . This was the stickiness factor for Blue’s Clues .
So what is the stickiness factor for implementing agile practices? There are probably many, but here are a few ideas. Deliver the concepts of agile in story form. Stories are a powerful mechanism to organize and deliver information in such way where others can identify with your perspective. Give an example of how an agile practice brought success in a past project. Illustrate how the practice of continuous integration helped keep the code base clean for an entire month straight and eliminated petty defects arising just before a release. Offer a storied scenario of how Test Driven Development (TDD) helped drive the design of