Having just finished a substantial series of articles on the Benefits of Agile, I thought it might be good to let you all know about some other ideas about these benefits. I don’t agree with everyone who has written on this topic, but of course, you can judge for yourself!
Although there many other benefits of agile, and although those provide us with other reasons to try agile, the five essential benefits of agile are:
Rapid Learning – disciplined application of the scientific method to explore the best ways to deliver valuable results.
Early Return on Investment – opportunity to use the results of work starting with the work delivered at the end of the first iteration.
Satisfied Stakeholders – engagement in the process in a way that allows meaningful contributions from all stakeholders.
Increased Control – mechanisms to track/measure and therefore steer the direction that work is going so that it meets goals.
Responsiveness to Change – processes, tools, roles and principles that allow a team and an organization to embrace change rather than reject, control or suffer from change.
These reasons are sufficient and apply to operations work, project work and open-ended research work, whenever humans are involved. The above links take you to more detailed descriptions of each of these benefits.
What are some of the other benefits of agile?
The fact that agile methods increase return on investment, accelerate learning, increase stakeholder satisfaction, and enable better control of work are all an interesting result of this final benefit: responding to change.
Okay, here’s yet another draft of the Scrum Rules Cheat Sheet. I’ve added two optional rules, a note about Truthfulness as well as re-wording or clarifying a few other rules. This is an update worth checking out! I would love to hear comments from people about how well this is communicating, how useful it is, if there are things missing or if you have any other suggestions for changes. Thanks! This is the original article about the Scrum Rules Cheat Sheet.
Bill Wake has a great collection of photos of team rooms for agile teams.
One of the reasons that agile provides stakeholder satisfaction is because of increased control. This increased control is a benefit in its own right. The word “control” must be used carefully… some agile approaches and practitioners are justly wary of the word and its common uses. This particular benefit of agile is often a little surprising to people how have believed the myths around agile that it is a chaotic-anything-goes type method. Let’s look at how an agile approach provides more control.
So far, we’ve discussed learning and value as benefits of agile. Now we turn to a more human side: satisfied stakeholders. Agile methods provide multiple roads to satisfaction for customers, users, business people, bureaucrats (okay, maybe not _all_ bureaucrats), team members, managers, shareholders, and interested passer-by. There are three primary mechanisms by which this occurs: engagement, trust-building and feedback-control. [UPDATED: added link to explanation of Commitment Velocity]
In the ScrumMaster training, I include a diagram that has a simple idea: to map the areas of complexity in a problem based on two dimensions: Agreement and Certainty. This diagram is an adaptation of the diagram by Ralph Stacey found in this article called Aides for Complexity by Brenda Zimmerman. This diagram or model can be used to help us understand where and how agile methods can be applied.
The 15% discount offered by Berteig Consulting Inc. on its fall courses is almost expired. If you “Save a Spot” or “Register” for a class on or before Sep. 15th, you will still get the discount. Courses are filling up quickly! Courses are being offered in Toronto, Beijing, Fort McMurray and Ottawa. (UPDATED: guess I missed that link when I first posted this… probably most of you figured it out anyway, but still DOH!!!)
Christopher Avery, who has written a book about teams called “Teamwork is an Individual Skill”, has a good reference page on his web site about teams. From his FAQ, here is his definition of “team”:
A team is a group of people whose personal outcomes are obviously linked to a collective outcome — such as a successful project — and who work together to maximize collective and individual outcomes. “Team” also refers to the quality of group relationships that allows ordinary individuals to achieve extraordinary results together — such as a project that surpasses its goals.
We wouldn’t do agile if we didn’t think it was better in some way. More and more, I am seeing the adoption of agile methods being driven by business management (rather then engineering). There is a clear reason for this: agile methods offer the possibility of early return on investment compared to other methods of working. This benefit is only one of five essential benefits of agile, but it is one of the most practical and easiest to measure. Therefore it is important to clearly understand how agile methods can deliver this benefit… and how they can fail to do so!
So what exactly are the benefits of agile? Why are people, teams and organizations so interested in agile processes? What about agile caused it to become a popular and rapidly growing approach to working? I have seen five essential benefits that come from implementing an agile methodology. Here I describe what I think of as the most important benefit of agile: rapid learning.
Most organizations start doing agile (or Scrum or lean or …) imperfectly. Someone introduces a few practices or a manager gets a team some training, or a person starts using agile terminology. And things might improve, particularly with the use of iterations. One of the core ideas of agile methods is to have frequent delivery of valuable results. In fact, this core idea can be used to drive the improvement of an agile process. How? Here are four methods of perfecting agile by expanding the definition of done.
After feedback and use in a number of different circumstances including training and coaching, Berteig Consulting has made a new Scrum Rules Cheat Sheet (pdf) available. Corrections to the old version include a “Basic Rule” about managing defects, as well as several changes to improve clarity.