Wednesday, 20 April 2016

The foundations of the Agile Manifesto

There have been many occasions where the Agile Manifesto has been pulled out in a presentation. Makes sense, it has been around for a while and started a movement which is still growing today.

We usually get caught up with the Agile Values and Principles but have you ever thought about the very first line?

"We are uncovering better ways of developing
software by doing it and helping others do it."

Recently, I had cause to realise the how this is the foundation of the Agile Manifesto by making and acknowledging a mistake.

I had been recording leadtimes for a while. The information was useful but there was something troubling - 13 point stories just didn't fit. No matter how we prepped or planned they always took longer than our sprint window, sometimes MUCH longer.

So I wielded my power as an SM and banned them. Poof! Gone! Good riddance.

Thing is, I had just moved the problem. Over time, I noticed the same issues we had observed with 13 point stories start to affect 8 point stories. I don't think this was conscious but I do think it was due my 'ban'.

It struck me that we had broken one of the foundations that are baked into the Agile Manifesto and everything it contains - by no longer doing it, we could not learn from our mistakes or successes.

It seems kind of obvious but I had never thought about it before. 

The manifesto was born out of 'doing' and 'sharing' - the people who some up with it did not hypothesise! You can only learn from doing - by banning my 13 point stories, I had stopped all feedback from experience and therefore any learning too. We accelerate our collective learning through sharing our experiences, both good and bad.

So I came clean with my team, said I goofed and the team took in not only 13 point stories but much larger ones too. Each time we tackled one, we learnt a little bit more and the next one was just a little bit smoother.

(But they still don't fit!)