Twenty years after the inception of the "Agile Manifesto," the benefits of agile development are widely accepted among software engineers. Today's vast majority of technology leaders recognize that an iterative approach reduces risk, increases efficiency, and maximizes value compared to traditional waterfall methods. What remains a debate is the best way to implement and practice agile methodology. In his latest Forbes.com article, Artisan CEO, Tim Mitrovich, shares why he believes in a more straight forward approach to agile.
While plenty of zealous Scrum Masters will argue for a long list of critical rules, Mitrovich points out that it is easy to over complicate agile. Often leaders who get caught up in the rituals of agile end up simply adding more meetings and slowing actual progress. The best outcome is to practice agile in a way that the entire organization (not just the technology team) understands and can benefit from it. When leaders overcomplicate the process, they quickly stifle agile's power to become an effective tool leveraged across the enterprise.
Agile is most effectively used as a set of driving disciplines rather than a list of rules. Above everything else, technology leaders should commit to these two fundamental disciplines: protect the sprint cycle and incorporate feedback.
Discipline #1: Make Sprints Sacred
Establishing a cadence of rapid release is one of the most effective ways to accelerate progress. By protecting the integrity of a sprint, engineering teams will have more success keeping a regular rhythm of product releases that the rest of the organization will learn to expect and trust. To do this, the engineering team must clearly define the scope, set expectations with the business, and get to work. Under no circumstances should they shift scope or break their sprint cycle. New issues can be addressed in the next sprint.
This type of discipline may sound extreme, but it is a critical enabler to progress. When a product owner treats sprints as sacred, the engineering team can work without fear of unexpected changes. They are setup for success to deliver consistently on what they've promised, establishing trust with the business and customers.
Discipline #2: Ask for and respond to feedback
Additionally, Mitrovich points to the core agile tenant of seeking user feedback as a critical discipline. In today’s world, customers and product users (even if they are internal employees) expect timely responses to their feedback. Ahead of every sprint, engineering teams should ask themselves: What customer feedback can we address quickly? Often, teams can identify quick fixes that they can incorporate into the next sprint, helping to demonstrate that they are listening to users and responding swiftly. The more customers recognize that their feedback is being regularly addressed, the more confidence they will have in the product team.
When used well, agile can be an excellent tool for establishing a rhythm of rapid release and building trust with end-users and the rest of the business. To read the entire article, visit Forbes.com. If you'd like to learn more about how Artisan utilizes an agile approach to help our clients achieve success, reach out to us. We'd are always open to discussing your organization's unique needs and goals.