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July 7, 2020

Agile software development is all about having fun! – Part IV

Agile software development

Next week was Rakesh’s son’s birthday and he called me for that. He also mentioned that Mathew and Sunil (his friends) are planning to join on that day.

I went to his house with my family. When we reached there he introduced me officially to Mathew and Sunil.

He said, “Guys, this is Ebin. As I told you, we had a great deal of discussion about “Agile” and its values. He always says that “Agile” software development is all about fun! I thought with your guys, the discussion could be even more interesting.”

We found a comfortable place to sit and started our conversation.

Mathew : “Ebin, Rakesh told us about your point of view about the challenges we shared with him. It is really interesting and we would like to hear more about that. Do you mind if I ask some questions?”

I said, “Not at all. In fact I enjoy talking about “Agile”, because it is my passion and profession, please shoot.”

Mathew: “ You were talking about so many human values and said that is “Agile”. I never heard of this before. Our agile coach always talks about agile manifesto and 12 principles and some meetings. In fact our teams are always in meetings, “Agile” is not allowing us to do any useful work. What are you referring to when you talk about those values, is there some other reference?”

Sunil also nodded, as if it was his question.

I replied,” Great question Mathew. I didn’t talk much about the manifesto to Rakesh because; I thought it is going to be too much of jargon for him. I am referring to the same agile manifesto. Let me tell you how it is connected.”

“Let us first understand the Agile manifesto (Read Agile manifesto: www.agilemanifesto.org ). The first value in the agile manifesto is, “Individual and Interaction over processes and tools”. This essentially means that people and their interaction are more important than processes and tools. When we talk about people and interaction, we are stressing on values such as, Respect, Trust, Transparency, Relationship and focus on face to face communication, etc. Remember that processes and tools are also important but priority is for the individuals and interactions.”

“Second value in agile manifesto is, “Working software over comprehensive documentation”. This essentially means that teams should focus on delivering value to the customer by incrementally developing the product and produce just enough documentation. Traditional development used to produce tons of documentation before even start creating the product. It is a reminder to focus on customer need and intrinsic quality and make sure that documents produced by the teams are valuable. What would you prefer? A working program with some features or “a book” describing about how the whole system will work! Remember it is not about “No Documentation”, it is about necessary documentation.

Third value in agile manifesto is, “Customer Collaboration over Contract Negotiation”. Customers are also human beings like us. The best solution emerges when we work together with the customer. When we uphold values like, Trust, Transparency, Open Communication, etc. with the customer, the collaboration emerges. This should lead to a constructive partnership with the customer. When you collaborate with customer, you will get frequent feedback from the customer and which can lead to great products and high customer satisfaction. We should invest in building good and transparent relation with the customer and avoid caging the customer with contract documents. Of course contracts and legal documents are needed but we should give priority to collaboration so that the best solution emerges.

Fourth value in agile manifesto is, “Responding to change over following a plan”. This reminding us that be open for changes when the environment or business problem changes. We should evolve with the product. The assumptions made at the time of initial planning will/may change when we progress. We should be always open to consider how can we adapt and be flexible to the situation so that we can solve the customer problems effectively. Remember “Planning is useful, plans are useless!”. Focus should be always on adding value to the customer, not on a plan which was created with limited understanding and lot of assumptions which has changed during the course of time.”

Rakesh’s wife came and invited all of us for cutting the birthday cake. We decided to continue the discussion after cake cutting.

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