Agile and Lean Software Development: Mastering the Art of Change

Mastering the “art” of adopting agile and lean software product development and delivery requires you to understand the science (technology) and the art (behavioral nuances) associated with this undertaking. This article focuses on how to make the cultural changes necessary for adoption and overcome general resistance to change in all of us.

The modern world of systems and software development and delivery presupposes we work faster and better, do more with less, change continuously, and invent new ways of working. 

Mastering the “art” of adopting agile and lean software product development and delivery requires you ask yourself, “Do I really understand the science (technology) and the art (behavioral nuances) associated with this undertaking?”

Your blended understanding of the art and science of your agile adoption is greatly influenced by your left and right brain functions as depicted in Figure 1.0.


Figure 1.0 – Brain Functions

This article takes a look at mastering the art/behavioral aspects of agile and lean system and software product development and delivery; focused on effectively dealing with change.

There is a Yin-Yang [1] to being agile and lean. Yin-Yang are two complementary mutually rooted qualities. That is to say, the yin and the yang aspect of any one phenomenon will, when put together, form the entire phenomenon. Yin-yang is a philosophy of duality. This is the reason the Chinese word has no "and" between yin and yang - the term always expresses the two making up the one.


The yin-yang of the scientific and artistic sides of agile and lean systems-software development and delivery is a synergistic blend. The scientific left-brain point-of-view is what our industry’s thought leaders have focused most of their attention on with their proliferation of guidance, books and articles. For example the widely used Scrum framework as depicted in Figure 2.0 or books titled, User Stories Applied: For Agile Software Development by Mike Cohn, Lean Software Development: An Agile Toolkit , by Mary Poppendieck, Scaling Software Agility by Dean Leffingwell, and more.


Figure 2.0 – Scrum Framework

Another example of characteristics associated with the scientific or left-brain part of being agile and lean is the likes of a manifesto [2] which delineates Agile values and principles.  Additionally there is a plethora of terms and vocabulary associated with being agile and lean as depicted in Figure 3.0.


Figure 3.0 – Navigating the Sea of Agility

The focus of this article is on the art/behavioral or more towards the right-brain functions of agile and lean system-software product development and delivery.

 In a scene from the film the Wizard of Oz , based on L. Frank Baum’s novel The Wonderful Wizard of Oz , Dorothy befriends a Scarecrow, a Tin Woodsman, and a Cowardly Lion. As we all know, the three decide to accompany Dorothy to go off to see the Wizard to obtain their desires (a brain, a heart, courage and a way home). Along the way they are plagued by a forest of angry apple trees and several attempts to stop them by the Wicked Witch of the West. There’s no real threat, only the possibility of what may lie behind the trees. Imagination takes hold, and fear moves from one to the other, until the entire group is fraught with apprehension and dread. A picture of what could lurk in the woodland is all that’s needed to change the behavior of the traveling companions. The camaraderie of happy explorers is transformed into a small group of hunched-over, shaking individuals who walk slowly, not realizing the danger is an imagined one, and their fears have no basis in reality; as Dorothy laments, "Lions and tigers and bears, Oh My!

I bet if you are or have attempted to be agile and lean you identify with Dorothy and her friends as you walk down the path of agile and lean system-software development and delivery. Like Dorothy, the Tin Man, the Cowardly Lion and the Scarecrow being agile


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