Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Why We Believe in Agile

Agile, is swift, strong and a little sexy.
I spend my days toiling in an anonymous cubical at a large company during the day while by night and on weekends I toil for my own start up.  It is thankless work.  I do it because I believe that there is a better way to run a business and serve customers.  I do it because I believe in agile and its principles for the modern business.  This week I want to talk about agile and why I believe in it so strongly.

When Frederick P. Brooks wrote, The Mythical Man-Month back in 1975, he was talking about what it took to write the OS/360 computer system.  When I picked up a copy of the second addition in 2009 many of the problems that Brookes wrote about were oddly familiar.  Projects run out of control.  Communications becomes a huge challenge and project managers who treat people like machines stumble across the Brooke's Law which states, "Adding man power to late project makes it later."

Except for being able to smoke in the office and the use of punch cards, many of the sad realities Brooks observed in software development then are still happening today.  Projects are flying wildly out of control.  Customers are not satisfied with what is being delivered and millions of dollars are being squandered needlessly.  This is why I was so attracted to the Agile Manifesto and Scrum.  With Agile a developer was judged on working software instead of how much documentation they wrote.  Being able to adapt to change was more important than following plans.  Finally, the people building the software had some say in what they were doing in and how they were doing it instead of having it dictated from above.  It was liberating and when I got the hang of it I was an eager convert. 

Still, I have discovered that Agile even though it has been around for over 10 years is still considered a fad in some business circles.  I discovered why when I read Len Lagestee's inspired blog: 5 Must Ask Questions for Leaders.  Organizations, especially large organizations, may not have the correct workforce and be unwilling to trust their employees completely with the changes which are necessary.  Finally, business leaders who model themselves after Donald Rumsfeld won't understand the quantum shift necessary to switch from command and control to servant leadership.  I live that reality each day in my day job.

I know there is something better out here.  I know that a company can be nimble responsive to client needs and treat its community with respect and dignity.  I know that Microsoft tools can build fantastic business applications for the cloud.  I also know there is money to be made in the unglamorous world of infrastructure and logistics.  This is what drives me.  Business for too long has been more concerned with its own power and influence instead of what really matters which are the customers and the community they serve.  This is why I am a believer in Agile because I feel like it can not only build a better piece of software but it can also create a better business. 

Find out what I am talking about by contacting us. 

It is time that business starts acting like it is in the 21st century instead of the 19th.  I hope my little startup is part of a trend which will make that a reality. 

Until next time.