January 25, 2007

...Learn TDD with Codemanship

Recognising Agility

Rachel Davies, chair of the Agile Alliance and regular frequenter of the Old Bank pub on Fleet Street, London, postulates on how one might know an Agile company when one sees one*.

I have a few thoughts on this, too:

* Since so very few companies appear to be genuinely Agile, if you picked one at random and asked me to take a guess, I'd feel pretty safe saying that they weren't.

* If Agile means responsive to change then I would compare their company literature from today and five years ago. Are they selling the same products with the same features that they were in 2001? A comparison of product features and product mix over time might hint at their ability to change direction quickly.

* If Agile means lean then I would get a feel for their levels of waste. If it costs them $1000 to put up a $100 whiteboard, then they're probably not Agile in that sense.

* If Agile means self-organising then I would get a feel for their levels of bureaucracy. How much discretion does the most junior person have in the execution of their responsibilities? Can the receptionist order more pencils when she needs them, or must it go through purchasing and be approved in writing by her line manager's line manager's line manager?

In each of these definitions, I must admit that I've only ever come across small companies that come close to being Agile. I've certainly come across many companies of all sizes who were wasteful, bureaucratic and resistant to change. It's the norm, I'm sorry to say.

Interestingly, who wants to work in a company like that? Nobody likes to admit to it. So why don't we all just say "enough is enough, let's go Agile"? Is it like that really loud music they play in pubs, where everybody complains about it but nobody asks the staff to switch if off?

* Oh, I know this joke. It goes something like this:

Q: How do you know if you're working in an Agile company?
A: Because when you wake up your sheets need changing

Posted 14 years, 6 months ago on January 25, 2007