Woody starts by asking the question what is agile? Yes, it lists the values and there is a manifesto but really it’s guidelines, a philosophy. Whats actions are agile and why are they always an ever evolving set of ever evolving practices. But which practices should we be using? Going back to basics, the manifesto can guide us to these practices. Woody calls the manifesto “the agile leftovers” – the ones on the left! Left over… But why isn’t something as obvious as rapid feedback missing?
There are many ways to look at the relationship between the items on the left and the right. The left you should do, but you can still those things on the right also.
Projects need to visualise their goals otherwise they may end up like a causal loop diagrams – too many things at play!
John Gall recommends starting simple and small. Get something that is right working first that is simple and then add to it to make it more complex. If you start with complex, how do you know it’s doing the right thing or even really working?
The Corps of Discovery was a specially-established unit of the United States Army which formed the nucleus of the Lewis and Clark expedition that took place between May 1804 and September 1806. The Corps, which was a select group of volunteers, were led jointly by Captain Meriwether Lewis and Second Lieutenant William Clark. It was commissioned by President Thomas Jefferson and the Corps’ objectives were both scientific and commercial – to study the area’s plants, animal life, and geography, and to learn how the Louisiana purchase could be exploited economically. How do you know what should be taken on such an expedition? How can you be prepared for any outcome? You can’t be and it was only due to establishing relations with indigenous nations between Missouri and the Pacific Ocean the Corps of Discovery would have undoubtedly starved to death or become hopelessly lost.
In a project description it pretends it’s all organised and tidy. It’s in the doing of the work that we discover the work we need to do. You don’t know what you’re getting into, until you’re already in it.
Woody talks about one of the many projects using iterative and incremental delivery. There are 200 developers working on the first iteration. The lessons learnt were that the estimates were off and the requirements kept changing. For the second iteration the lessons learnt were that the estimates were off and the requirements kept changing. They had to work harder to get better. The third iteration again had the same lessons learnt. This is the cycle of continuous no-improvement. If you keep doing the same thing, you will get the same outcome. Another project he worked on there were 12 calculations that had to be done. His team looked at this and did not understand what these calculations did, but did they need to? What was the most painful part and took a long time? The end users selected one part and told them that this thing takes an hour. They sat down together and the end users walked the team through this section of the calculations. The team worked on it and gave them end users something back to try out in a couple of days. Then they reviewed the next painful part and sat with the end users to learn more about that part. Then then delivered that part of it. The end users helped the team to understand the section they wanted to work on and the potential value, without needing to explain the how 12 calculations. In the end the team delivered about 4% of what was required and they had actually helped the team so much that the other requirements were no longer needed. This solution they had was good enough. This aligns up with the theory that by doing 20% of the work delivers 80% of the value.
Woody calls this “deliver features until bored!!!” You want to be able to get feedback at any moment, this way you can work to do things better.
If I take a step and someone follows then you’re a leader.
When you work you need to discover excellence as people enjoy being the best they can be at their job.
It was a great endnote from Woody but that signified the end of a great Agile on the Beach 2015.