AoAD2 Chapter: Invest in Agility

This is an excerpt from The Art of Agile Development, Second Edition. Visit the Second Edition home page for additional excerpts and more!

This excerpt is copyright 2007, 2021 by James Shore and Shane Warden. Although you are welcome to share this link, do not distribute or republish the content without James Shore’s express written permission.

Invest in Agility

As we saw in the previous chapter, for your teams to get the benefits of Agile, your organization has to buy into the underlying Agile philosophy. Not just spending money—that’s comparatively easy—but making real, meaningful changes to organizational structures, systems, and behaviors.

If that sounds like a lot of work...well, that’s because it is. Are these investments really so important?

Yes. They really are.

Most of what holds teams back isn’t the processes they use; it’s the constraints they’re under.

Investing in Agile is important because you’re investing in changing your constraints. Most of what holds teams back isn’t the processes they use; it’s the constraints they’re under. Make the investments and ignore the practices, and your teams are still likely to improve. Perform the practices and ignore the investments? They’ll struggle.

As Martin Fowler said:1

1Excerpted from Fowler’s “Enterprise Rails” article.

I see a startling parallel between DHH [David Heinemeier Hansson, creator of Ruby on Rails] and Kent Beck [creator of Extreme Programming]. For either of them, if you present them with a constrained world, they’ll look at constraints we take for granted, consider them to be unessential, and create a world without them...they just stick some intellectual dynamite under them and move on. That’s why they can create things like Extreme Programming and Rails, which really give the industry a jolt.

Martin Fowler

Make the investments. They’re the secret to Agile success.

The following sections describe the investments your teams need from your organization. You may not be able to get all of them, so I’ve provided alternatives. But the alternatives come at the cost of reduced effectiveness, so work hard to get as many as you can. I’ve included only the ones that are important.

...to continue reading, buy the book!

In this Section

  1. Invest in Agility
    1. Sidebar: Summary of Investments
    2. Make Time for Learning
      1. If there’s no time for learning...
      2. If there’s no budget for help...
    3. Choose or Create Agile Teams
      1. If you can’t dedicate people to their teams...
      2. If team members don’t get along...
      3. If you can’t create long-lived teams...
      4. If you can’t get the business, customer, or user expertise you need...
      5. If you can’t get all the developer skills you need...
    4. Choose Agile Coaches
      1. If you can’t hire the coaches you need...
    5. Delegate Authority and Responsibility to Teams
      1. If work must be assigned to individuals...
      2. If tools don’t support team-based work...
      3. If teams have to use a corporate tracking tool...
      4. If teams don’t have access to stakeholders...
      5. If Delivering teams don’t have control over their release processes...
      6. If Optimizing teams don’t have control over their product plans and spending...
    6. Change Team Management Style
      1. If managers have trouble letting go...
    7. Create Team Rooms
      1. If a team is remote...
      2. If you can’t create a physical team room for an in-person team...
    8. Establish a Learning-Friendly Purpose for Each Team
      1. If there’s an important deadline...
      2. If there’s no valuable green-field work to do...
    9. Replace Waterfall Governance Assumptions
      1. If waterfall governance is required...
        1. Sidebar: Succeeding with Waterfall
    10. Change Harmful HR Policies
      1. If HR policies are set in stone...
    11. Address Security Concerns
      1. If there’s no flexibility around security requirements...
      2. If you’re required to have a separate code review step...
        1. Sidebar: Troubleshooting Guide

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For more excerpts from the book, see the Second Edition home page.

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