Agile is Really Taking Off!

Like any 25- to 30-year-old methodology, The Agile Body of Knowledge needs to be refreshed, reenergized, and measured against the value it brings. WGA is making a difference in the Agile world by challenging some of its stale concepts and adding new knowledge and customer success stories.

WGA Scrum Foundation and Pillars™

The Foundation

The foundation and pillars of Agile/Scrum are a place to start. The primary foundation must be grounded in “Quality.” It also must be defined for the organization and defined for the product development and project management disciplines and processes. This firm base supports the Product Owner’s efforts to derive the correct stated and unstated requirements from the market or customer. The positive effects on all downstream Agile processes cannot be overstated here.

The next elevation of the foundation is “Energy.” If Waterfall habits can be described objectively as “low energy,” (spending weeks or months defining requirements, generating SOWs, negotiating, getting signatures…) Agility in practice is quite the opposite. Agile practices support positive and energetic interactions and problem-solving. The process itself, in all stages, mitigates the risk of being wrong. The Product Owner does not fret that Product Requirements are not perfect because they will change as the product comes to life. The technical teams using Fibonacci planning poker in sizing sessions are gently reminded by Scrum Masters that lengthy arguments on whether a User Story is 8 or 13 points is not worth more than a two-minute discussion- because we’ll know the actual size when we decompose User Stories into tasks during Sprint Planning.

The Pillars

The Pillars are features of a successful Agile ecosystem. They elevate and support the roof overhead which protects and allows shelter from ignorance, fear of making decisions, and isolation from our peers.

Curiosity is a trait required of the Product Owner as they elaborate on product requirements. It’s not just about WHAT the customer or the market wants = stated requirements. It’s about WHY they want certain functionality. This level of understanding and internalization is why Agile/Scrum provides such advantage to all stakeholders. Now that the Product Owner is thusly engaged, Curiosity is required of the technical team members who need to understand the WHY as well. This unbiased journey into the customer experience will allow teams to design and develop functionality that satisfies requirements and anticipates future requirements.

Courage is also required of the Product Owner and technical teams. Being close to the customer per the aforementioned processes, the engaged Product Owner can develop required artifacts and share them with high confidence they are accurate. The team takes the deliverables of the process from the PO and elaborates them with equal confidence. The instincts of technical experts guide the development of high-quality products rather than guesswork that results from a flawed process. POs and teams make decisions quickly with the right people in the room where collaboration and persuasion are the tools of choice.

Collaboration is the final pillar, and an engaged team of equals can analyze, identify potential root causes, and mitigation paths, and come to a consensus on solutions easily and with energy. Collaboration happens when it is valued in an organization. Agile teams find great satisfaction in engaged collaboration.

This blog is intended to inform, provoke thinking, and create a community conversation around the topics. Please stay tuned for more….

Mark C. Hall

William George Associates