We had a meeting with a client a few days ago about how our projects are managed. We found ourselves doing a lot of explaining as our offer was completely different from those the client had received from all the other companies in the tender. So why is it so that eighteen years after the agile manifesto has been published, the industry was not able to adopt agile thinking?
One of the biggest misconceptions about agile is that it is an unorganized and kind of “punk” way of working. To be honest, I had gone through these stages as well when I thought being agile just means leaving the organization up to the team and waiting for the results. Sure, being able to self-organize is one of the main principles of agile frameworks, but it should not be understood as anarchy or result in chaos. So what being agile means and why is that important?
I don’t believe it’s even possible nowadays to create a comprehensive specification, work on a project for a year, then launch and magically end up with a successful project.
The software industry is one of the most competitive there is, and the market and requirements are changing every day. If you want to increase a chance to succeed, you must minimize your risks and test your ideas on every single step. I don’t believe it’s even possible nowadays to create a comprehensive specification, work on a project for a year, then launch and magically end up with a successful project. I’ve never seen a project without the specification being changed many times along the way.
The only way to run your project is to work with people who believe in the product and the mission you have – otherwise you can’t get a working product. Even a billion pages of acceptance criteria will not help you if the team developing your product is not fully invested. So why is it that we have not embraced this way of collaboration?
For me being agile is about being open, empowering people and building trust. And trust is not something that is built easily. Giving people more freedom and power when holding on to a tight budget is scary – as I’ve seen not only with some of our start-up clients but also while working on our own projects. Losing control is the scariest thing there is – especially for those of us who are used to lead and take pride in their skills and achievements (and ego?). Which is often the case with entrepreneurs. And it’s even worse when you put all your eggs in one basket.
Building trust is the only way if we want to bring more joy to our work and to the lives of those who use our software every day. If you embrace this and trust the team working for you, then there is a better chance that you will succeed. Or at least you will find out you’re not on the right track before wasting too much of your resources.