Saturday, December 26, 2009

Agile is about Deliverables

I just came back from a wedding which took place in a small remote place in northern Bavaria, Germany. What does a wedding have to do with agile software development? Nothing at all, but quite a bit.
The bride and the groom are both living in Paris, France. She is from Germany and he from Algeria. The location of the wedding was chosen for one single reason. A relative of the bride´s family owns a hotel. This guaranted excellent service for a competitive price.
Ok, now I will elaborate about my epiphany I had there. But first here it is:

Agile is about deliverables


Classical processes are about completed work steps

What do I mean with this? In classical, Taylorism style driven workflows you are completing work steps in a long sequence. If you have 10 steps and are done with 8 you have 80% completed.
In agile it is about usable deliverables, value. It either exist and can be used or you better don't mention it. 0% or 100%.
Now, as you can see from the geographical distribution it was not straight forward for everyone to be there on time. Some people only had to drive, others took the plane or train. Many of them had a combination of all sorts of meaning of transport. Also, as it happened, there were snow storms all over Europe with tons of snow and really chilly weather. Those weather conditions caused quite some traffic havoc.
Nevertheless, every single person was there on time. Not one single one was late. They all were standing in the church when the bride and groom walked down the aisle.

They delivered. They delivered value by being there and paying their respect. I am sure many of them had quite a stressful adventure behind them but all of them only smiled at the couple.

The alternative would have been the following. Imagine the phone ringing and a conversation sounding somewhere like that: '... we are 90% there. In the beginning everything went according to plan but then there was an accident because of the weather ...' or '... we heard about the weather but we assumed everything will be fine, but now the airport is shut down for a couple of hours, we will arrive tomorrow. Guess this is ok?'

Don't track and communicate your progress in regards to your work steps but deliver value. This is the ONLY important thing!

It was a great wedding, mainly because everybody was there!