The Agile Architect
Does Agile Apply To You?
Our Agile Architect ponders the applicability of agile thinking and methodologies outside traditional software development.
I've been writing for years now about agile software development techniques. The more I learn about organizations, interfacing with departments outside of IT and engineering, the more I realize that a lot of agile thinking applies to far more than just software development. So I have to ask the ultimate question ....
Does Agile Apply To You?
There you have it. My most concise breakdown of agile applicability to date. It, of course, doesn't need to be stated how agile applies outside of software. Forgetting Test-Driven Development and other technical techniques, the advantages of applying iterative (Scrum, XP) or flow-based (Kanban) processes to other disciplines is obvious. After all, agile is really just a framework for thinking about how to solve problems through the use of teamwork, focused and prioritized effort on delivery, and constant reflection on how to improve how you do your work. This can apply whether you are building software, organizing bike rallies, or running a political campaign.
Of course, I can't tell you how to manifest agile thinking for your particular business. If I did that (and you believed me), you wouldn't be agile. But you might want to ask yourself some questions:
- What is my end game? Ignoring all the stuff in between, what am I really trying to accomplish or produce?
- How do I nurture a creative environment where my team has everything they need to do their job, including all the right people on the team, and minimize outside, extraneous distractions?
- How do I allow the team to innovate yet stay focused on the end game?
- How do I measure real, tangible progress? Agile software teams measure features and business value delivered. What can I measure that is not simply the illusion of progress?
- How do I increase feedback by shrinking the learning cycle so I can constantly improve my product, my team, and my process?
By answering these sometimes difficult questions honestly, you are taking your first steps into an agile world of new possibilities.
Until next time!
Dr. Mark Balbes serves as Vice President, Architecture at WWT Application Services, and leads multiple Agile projects for Government and Fortune 500 companies. He received his Ph.D. in Nuclear Physics from Duke University in 1992, then continued his research in nuclear astrophysics at Ohio State University. Dr. Balbes has worked in the industrial sector since 1995 applying his scientific expertise to the disciplines of software development. He has led teams as small as a few software developers to as large as a multi-national Engineering department with development centers in the U.S., Canada, and India. Whether serving as product manager, chief scientist, or chief architect, he provides both technical and thought leadership around Agile development, Agile architecture, and Agile project management principles.