a component, while providing a set of regression tests to conserve the quality of the code. The story format can be more effectively absorbed by the minds of team members than just an abstract academic lecture describing the concepts of agile.
Another idea for getting hold of the stickiness factor is to introduce agile practices incrementally. Start small and try to gain traction as you make progress. For example, introduce a daily standup and allow it to be successful for a few weeks. Then introduce iterations and iteration planning, followed by TDD. Entice the business with regular releases to a test environment to increase their involvement. An incremental approach can ease the transition to agile for a development team and each small success can build on the stickiness factor for agile.
The Power of Context
The final agent of change described by The Tipping Point is The Power of Context. Human behavior is sensitive to and strongly influenced by its environment. Gladwell says, "Epidemics are sensitive to the conditions and circumstances of the times and places in which they occur."
A transition to agile has to be supported by the right environment. If you want to introduce agile practices and methodology, there must be evidence that the organization is ready for change. You can’t force ideas on those unwilling to listen. In my experience, there are three key elements that determine the potential success of an agile conversion :
- Senior management must embrace agile and sufficiently understand its principles.
- There must be a business need to make a process change in the organization. Continuing the same route must cost more than making some kind of change.
- The team must have a majority of members open to learning new ideas and willing to change. They must also have an inner drive to be successful.
These three points serve as the context for agile change. Of course, if a resounding "No!" is the answer to these three questions, then you are flowing against the current and your efforts may turn fruitless as an agile consultant.
The Tipping Point is an analysis about how ideas catch fire and spread through society. We can apply these concepts to our own field. Individuals can make a difference in an organization. By applying tipping point principles, you can ignite a grass roots movement toward from within. All that is required is a little determination, heart, and knowledge of the social interactions at play between people. Change can happen and hopefully you can find the right agile tipping point.
* Thanks to Jacob Orshalick, partner at Solutionsit, for his review of this article