The Agile Umbrella
Since the birth of the Agile Manifesto in 2001, there has much buzz around being agile. Whether you’re a 100-year-old company or a newly formed startup, agility is a force to be reckoned with. Agile is a way of thinking that enables teams and organizations to innovate, quickly respond to changing demand, while mitigating risk. Organizations can be agile using many of the available frameworks available such as Scrum, Kanban, Lean, and Extreme Programming (XP).
Some of you may vaguely remember the Flip Video camera, a digital video recorder created by Pure Digital Technologies that ran the production of its sleek and easy to use recorders from 2006-2011.
I remember when I was first introduced to the Flip camera, I was amazed by its slim, sleek, compact body and its ability to shoot a video anywhere and whenever without having to lug a VHS camcorder on my shoulder. It comes as no surprise if you have no recollection of the Flip camera. Several factors led to its demise, and the one I’d like to highlight here is that technology waits for no one.
Companies like Blockbuster, Polaroid, AOL, and more recently Toy-R-Us are cautionary tales, warning organizations that “business as usual” is no longer a viable mantra if it wants to remain relevant and profitable in a world of constant change, technological advances, and disruptive innovation. Many leaders believe that speed is the answer to avoid similar paths of these ill-fated companies. While searching for ways to deliver faster, they stumble upon “agile” and “Scrum,” believing they are one in the same.
Scrum is a Foundation for Agility
Scrum is one of the more popular frameworks utilized by organizations, and when implemented properly can help teams address complex problems by incrementally delivering products of the highest value while mitigating risk. Scrum is ineffective when companies cherry pick the more accessible events like the daily Scrum and sprint but sweep events that demand honest inspection and transparency under the rug. There are 5 events in Scrum including the Sprint, a time-boxed iterations (1 month or less) used to create a done increment; Sprint Planning; Daily Scrum (15 min max – It’s not a status meeting and you don’t have to stand up for it… unless you want to); Sprint Review; and the Sprint Retrospective. It comes at no surprise when organizations claim Scrum does not work for them when implementing Scrum without understanding the purpose and spirit of each event. Scrum is successful when all the components of Scrum (events, roles, and artifacts) are realized to ensure transparency, inspection, and adaptation – the thee pillars of Scrum.
Regardless of what methodology your organization chooses, seeking to become agile requires courage and honesty to ask the right questions and make thoughtful changes that go above and beyond the “business as usual” model. Slapping fancy Scrum terms to existing processes and events without making the meaningful changes in your organization will yield minimal change and value.