The Agile community is a tightly knit and extremely supportive group of professionals who are passionate about using – and refining – Agile practices and techniques to provide the greatest benefit to their organizations. The only problem is that the work that they do – and the language that they use – has been so heavily focused on two specific sectors (IT and manufacturing) that other industries have had minimal exposure to the benefits of these approaches.

For example, books on Agile project management techniques have focused, almost exclusively, on how these approaches can improve software development projects, even though much of the content could be equally applied to any time-, cost- or resource-constrained project work in other industry sectors.

This focus on industry-specific activities is, arguably, a primary reason why these exceptionally dedicated Agile practitioners have often had a difficult time convincing senior management within their own organizations to support these approaches – let alone convincing clients in other organizations. This lack of management support has often meant that the adoption of Agile approaches within an organization has needed to come from a series of smaller successes in “grass-roots” work (i.e. “Agile-by-stealth”), instead of a collaborative initiative between staff and


In addition to an overall lack of awareness about Agile approaches, there may be other factors that would make an organization initially hesitant to adopt these approaches, including:

» Technical terminology: much of the language that is currently used to describe Agile practices and techniques (e.g. Test-Driven Development) is quite specific to the IT and manufacturing industries, which makes it more difficult for people to see the potential beyond these two industries. Also, some of the terms used (e.g. eXtreme Programming) can create the impression that these are “rogue” practices instead of proven approaches.

» Agile myths: rumors about Agile approaches that have grown from misunderstanding. For example, the mistaken impression that using Agile approaches means no documentation when, in actuality, it means using more effective communication channels to work together (e.g. face-to-face communication) and using

documentation where required to record the outcomes of

this work.

» Misapplication: there are instances where an organization has endeavored to apply Agile approaches in the past, without fully understanding the underlying principles. For example, an organization that moves to an “Agile” iteration-based project management model, but still requires all of the work to be signed-off in an upfront specification. Truly Agile organizations

understand that responsive planning is only valuable when the organization is in a position to adapt ongoing work as it progresses. Otherwise, iterative work just becomes shorter delivery cycles that are limited by the same core constraint; and Agile approaches get an unjustified bad reputation when this pre-constrained process inevitably fails.

» Trusting employees: at the heart of Agile approaches is the firm belief that people can – and will – do the right thing by the organization if they are given the opportunity. If the senior management of an organization sees employees as unmotivated people who have to be

supervised closely in order to get any work done, they will be far less willing to entrust delivery teams to selfmanage. The irony is that these same managers rarely appreciate that a corporate culture of mistrust breeds unmotivated people.

» “Business as usual” mindset: there is no doubt that Agile approaches require organizations to act – and think – differently to the way that they have in the past. Those organizations which are self-aware (and humble) enough to recognize that their business practices of the past may not sustain them into the future, will be more amenable to considering Agile approaches, especially given their

widespread support and long history of success. In contrast, executives who are committed to “the way we do things around here” are likely to see Agile approaches as too radical for their organization. The bottom line is that Agile approaches are a significant change in the way in which organizations operate – but change can be for the better.

The previously referenced statistics from Forrester and VersionOne identified that organizations are both aware of Agile approaches and are receiving benefits from their use of these approaches. To date, these statistics have predominantly been focused on the experience of organizations in the IT industry, but they are good indicators that Agile approaches really do result in positive outcomes for the organizations that are forward-thinking enough to apply them. So, the most likely reason for the

limited uptake of Agile approaches outside the IT and manufacturing industries, is simply that organizations in other industries may not be aware that they, too, could achieve real productivity gains from these approaches.

Source of Information : IT Governance Publishing-Agile Productivity Unleashed 2010


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