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[XP] Re: Success rates of Agile Transitions

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  • Joseph Little
    Hi George, Sorry about the distrust. Nothing personal. But in writing it is easy to misunderstand the writer s intent (mine or yours). I am usually guilty
    Message 1 of 256 , Apr 2, 2008
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      Hi George,

      Sorry about the distrust. Nothing personal. But in writing it is
      easy to misunderstand the writer's intent (mine or yours). I am
      usually guilty of being too trusting. And anyway, I was also kidding you.

      You make a fair (implied) point about how people are not what we want
      them to be. We have the 10 commandments, and then we have people in
      everyday life. My experience is that each person ((including myself,
      but we'll ignore that if you don't mind)) breaks at least one of the
      10 commandments each day. We will leave aside the other 600 or so.
      (To explain: Moses brought us 611 commandments to lead a good life.
      We usually just think of the first 10, with, it is said, only 8 of
      those being Mosaic.)

      Still, it is useful first to discuss what we ought to do. Then we can
      discuss what we will do. And then what others will likely do.

      1. Are these the measures the customer really looks at? A: Well,
      sometimes Yes. And, as your question implies, even if they don't do
      it once, that is too much. So, far too often, No. It is our job to
      work on that. And we must have some compassion also. It's a rough and
      tumble world out there for the managers (customers). We might reproach
      them in a kindly voice.

      2. At what level is success evaluated? And is one level better or
      worse at doing it? A: In my experience, at all levels, in some way.
      Although not nearly so well communicated as I think it should be.
      There is not a level of managers that is predictably better at evaluating.

      This train of thought reminds me of "genchi genbutsu". This is a
      Japanese phrase that (I am told) literally means "go and see for
      yourself". Also roughly translated as: "Don't manage from behind the
      desk" by Lean. An important Lean phrase.

      So, I do find that if managers visit the "gemba" (the place where it's
      happening; the team room in Agile), then they can evaluate more fairly
      and accurately.

      So, does all this talk help?

      We will not fix all the world's problems. But we can make it better.

      This conversation does remind me to talk to managers, and find out
      whether metrics specifically, and Agile generally, are working for
      them personally. While I might not like some of the conversation, it
      is easier to work with the known than the unknown.

      Regards, Joe


      --- In extremeprogramming@yahoogroups.com, George Dinwiddie
      <lists@...> wrote:
      >
      > Joseph Little wrote:
      > > Hi George,
      > >
      > > "How are you judging improvement?"
      > >
      > > You are a smart guy, and doubtless have your own answer for the
      > > question. Or feel the question cannot be answered. So, at the risk
      > > of setting myself up, I will still try to give you (and really others)
      > > my answer.
      >
      > Joe, you wound me with your distrust! Honestly, I'm not trying to set
      > you up. You said, "We also know that many large firms have tried to do
      > 'agile' and failed. Or had mediocre results (+10%, +20%)." Expressing
      > improvement as a percentage implies some sort of measurement, but you
      > didn't state what was being measured (or who was measuring it, for that
      > matter).
      >
      > [snip, concentrating on the "larger world"]
      >
      > > In the larger world (a release, a larger effort), I favor some metric
      > > around Business Value. There are lots of them, and I think each can
      > > be good and appropriate in some situations. Examples include: NPV,
      > > ROI, Reduced Cycle Time (eg, for a process the SW will improve), etc,
      > > etc.
      > [snip]
      > > In the end, it is more blessed to give than to receive. In the end,
      > > the only measure is: did we satisfy (or surpass) the customers' needs
      > > and wants. All else is minor commentary. (As a tease to my vanity, I
      > > will remind myself that almost all customers don't want software; they
      > > want a solution to a real problem they have identified. Maybe
      > > software is part of the solution or improvement.)
      >
      > I agree these are good measures to look at. And I agree with your
      > caveats and cautions about them. My next question, in the context of
      > this discussion, is "In your experience, are these the measurements the
      > customer is making when they decide whether an initiative was
      successful
      > or not?" And, since corporations are not monolithic, what level is the
      > customer evaluating success, high-level or mid-level management?
      >
      > > Was that helpful at all?
      >
      > Absolutely. But I think there's still a bit of meat left on this bone.
      > This thread started with a discussion of the success of Agile
      > Transitions, as measured by meeting "the goals/improvements the
      customer
      > or company was looking for." I think a little more understanding of
      > those goals sought in actual practice might be illuminating. I find
      > business managers, as a whole, to not be as focused on value as the
      > business books might recommend.
      >
      > - George
      >
      > --
      > ----------------------------------------------------------------------
      > * George Dinwiddie * http://blog.gdinwiddie.com
      > Software Development http://www.idiacomputing.com
      > Consultant and Coach http://www.agilemaryland.org
      > ----------------------------------------------------------------------
      >
    • Niraj Khanna
      Hi Unmesh, Sorry for not responding in over 1 month. We were away on vacation. ... I think what you re describing maybe a symptom or practice of why some
      Message 256 of 256 , May 8, 2008
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        Hi Unmesh,

        Sorry for not responding in over 1 month. We were away on vacation.
        > So to measure success or failure of "Agile" transition is to measure
        > if people are thinking for themselves, rather than blindly following
        > agile coach's advice and running behind agile buzzword. How can we
        > measure that?
        >

        I think what you're describing maybe a symptom or practice of why some
        agile transitions "succeed" over others that "fail". I'm just
        interested in measuring whether it succeeds or fails. A secondary and
        more useful study would be "why do agile transitions succeed/fail".
        Finally, to be quite honest, I wouldn't be surprised to see "Blindly
        following agile manual" in either the "success" or "failure" camp. I
        think Ron has discussed practicing all the XP practices before
        deciding which ones to drop, but I can also see how practicing and
        applying practices without an understanding of expected benefits
        coulod lead to adoption failure.

        Thanks,
        Niraj.
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