SATURN 2011: Rebecca Wirfs-Brock, Agile Adoption, Does it Have to Be All in or Fold?

Agile Adoption: Does it Have to Be All In or Fold?
Rebecca Wirfs-Brock, Wirfs-Brock Associates

Abstract and presentation materials

In her SATURN 2011 IEEE Software plenary talk, Rebecca Wirfs-Brock presented case studies of experience reports from the Agile Conference to illustrate various ways in which people perceive what it means to be Agile.

Among the lessons learned that Rebecca presented are the following:

Once you get it right, it’s not a big deal. Medtronics implemented Agile practices and moved on. Their approach was empirical adoption.

Non-developers who support Agile development make different decisions on the question, Are we in or out? Outsiders who don’t write code, such as documentation specialists, can get pulled in and then change the process. Such ancillary groups make different choices; some choose “functional team cohesion over whole-team discomfort.” The choice is whether to work outside or alongside the whole team.

As development teams became productive, feature requests can increase. The organization can be expected to leverage the increased ability to produce.

It can be difficult to get the QA organization to change its processes concurrently with changes to development practices. In the case that Rebecca cited, QA did not get on board until improved quality had been demonstrated in the first release.

Incremental adoption can sometimes be successful.

Agile 2011 Newsflash: Trend is Agile + Lean/Kanban. Teams are finding which Agile practices should be adopted in an iterative fashion.

Reinforce what you value:

  • Team review of major code changes
  • Pair of eyes on all code checked at final fix
  • End-to-end testing of database transactions
  • Realistic tests with different test rhythms
  • Adding Kanban to improve flow

How can you grow a thriving Agile practice? Don’t do it by the book or follow blindly what a consultant tells you to do. Keep it fresh, connect to corporate values. Relate to your mission statement. Reinforce what you value. One constant of change is that you grow in the process.

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