Archive for March, 2011

I’m Not Gonna Force Agile On You

March 31, 2011

I had the experience recently of encountering Fear and Loathing of Agile in a few people.  It made me realize that in my writing this deck for executives how important it is to understand that everyone wants process; they just don’t want your process.  Kind of like religion. They worry you’ll try to convert them to something that goes against everything they stand for. And ironically that, I believe, is at the heart of why an Agile approach actually can work better.  It allows for room for your process.

I’m picking on Dr. Alistair Cockburn this time because I’m finding the material I need to accomplish this end.  From this page on his site, “Balancing Lightness and Sufficiency”: (more…)

Source Material for a Deck on Agile for Executives

March 29, 2011

I thought to collect some links here for use as source material in writing a short deck for Executives (in Advertising or Marketing) describing Agile.  (UPDATE: Note – the deck is not yet written – this is my raw research).

My criteria for quoting from these (or being inspired by these) is that the material has to be value-focused.  Why Agile?  What’s the benefit?  How is it better than what I’m doing now?  And must apply outside of software development. Maybe apply directly to marketing.

I think I also need to give very high-level descriptions of Crystal Clear, Kanban and Scrum, possibly XP and possibly Lean.  But I want my deck to be very, very short and succinct.

I may update this post over time.

Here is my first list at 8 AM on 3/29:

Agile Scout’s “Agile is NOT a Methodology”

Agile’s “Agile Methodology”

Dr. Alistair Cockburn “Balancing Lightness with Sufficiency”

Dmitri Maex for Ogivly’s DoubleThink “Agile Markerting Part II: Learnings from Product Development”

Decks by Jeff Patton – read the first deck

Dr. Jeff Sutherland on Agile Principles and Values (his site has great stuff too, but this is at Microsoft)

Jason Yip’s article “It’s Not Just Standing Up: Patterns of Daily Stand-up Meetings”

John Paul Titlow for “What is Agile Commerce”

Excellent article by Ken Schwaber on driving value for business titled “Major Releases are a Failure”

Lyssa Adkins’ “What is Agile?”

Michael Sahota’s “Agile Fits Better in Some Company Cultures Than Others”

Scrum Alliance’s “The Scrum Framework in 30 Seconds”

Scott Ambler’s “Bureaucracy Isn’t Discipline”

Scott Brinker (Chief Martec) “Ideas for an Agile Marketing Manifesto”’s Scrum Guide page

Tobias Mayer’s “Simple Scrum” , “Scrum: A New Way of Thinking” and “The Essence of Scrum”

VersionOne’s “What is Agile” (although pretty development-centric)

Suggestions more than welcome.

Updated 3/29 – 3:45 PM – with articles by Schwaber, Sutherland, Cockburn, and Patton. Alphabetized.  Hm. The list is getting too long – probably not a good page for executives, but good for us detailed people to find source material.

Is Agile Communist?

March 27, 2011

Whenever we start talking about “collectives” and not being completely in the realm of the individual, we inevitably see comparisons to Communism.

So I found this very interesting article written in 2007 called “Does XP/Scrum Violate the ‘Agile Manifesto?’” written by an anonymous blogger who refers to themselves as the “Software Maestro.” (I have not delved more deeply into this blog to figure out if they de-cloaked at any point).  I also found this article, on, also from 2007, which argues back in a very cogent, unemotional, way.

Ramses II photo by Iamimesis

Ramses II photo by Iamimesis

Software Maestro’s article aligning Agile with Communism should be considered as its very interesting viewpoint starts to pierce some of this puzzling over leadership and the role of the individual within the Agile world.  It’s back to the Big Idea, Steve Jobs, Bill Gates and the need for leadership and vision for the team.  Who gets to have a vision?  Just the Product Owner? Just the Master? Just Steve Jobs?  Just George Lois? And so on. (more…)

Self-Directed Work and Free Will (More On the Agile Enlightenment)

March 24, 2011

In a recent article in the New York Times, John Tierney discusses Free Will and Determinism.  One line inspired me to consider this in the context of what I view as a possible new Enlightenment taking place in business right now in the form of the adoption of Agile working methodologies.  That is:

…the higher the workers scored on the scale of belief in free will, the better their ratings on the job.

One of the fundamental operating principles of Agile methodologies is the idea of self-directed teams.  Agile moves away from the carrot-or-stick mentality towards collaboration.  I need the copy to complete my layouts; the writer needs strategy to complete the copy; the strategist hears and understands and works with both because now s/he understands what they need to make the team’s shared goal.  I don’t need someone beating me with a stick to get me moving; I don’t need a raise for “making it happen” even though I didn’t have what I needed.  The team just needs to collaborate. And the erstwhile project manager, now the “ScrumMaster” facilitates all of us talking.  We might not even really need the ScrumMaster every single time.

Where, but in collaboration, can we have a strong sense of free will, of deciding to work together?

Tobias Mayer on his Agile Anarchy blog talks about the role of the Individual and Free Will in this way (and don’t get scared by the word “anarchy,” please):

Both the anarchist and the agilist believe that real change does not come about through compliance and coercion, cannot be commanded from on high, but begins at a grass roots level, with the individual.  Each one of us is responsible for change.  That is our beginning.