My Thoughts On Snowbird 10

February 16, 2011 — Posted by Al Shalloway

I'll start off by saying thanks to Alistair Cockburn for not only organizing the event but by ensuring it was a true collaborative and forward moving one – not the least tainted by any ulterior motive. No one had an agenda except to share, learn and have fun. I was both thrilled and honored to be invited – a definite high-point for me.

One can always second guess an event like this and point to how perhaps we could have gotten more done. I am sure that many people who were not in attendance will do this. But, I actually believe we did more than could have been expected. I won't go over the results as I think Dennis Stevens does an excellent job in his blog What's Next for the Agile Manifesto.

My big question for the future of Agile is how it can help us become a true profession. The format of the event, however, didn't really allow for this conversation. No worries. While lots of questions were asked at Snowbird 10, the question we didn't ask at Snowbird 10 was "what is Agile?" Or, perhaps, even more salient, "what should Agile be?" There's not agreement here.

After 15+ years of somewhat formalized Agility (the Agile Manifesto did not start it) what the scope of Agile should be is still not agreed to. In my mind there are three main camps out there:

  1. Agile is a software team focused method that can be scaled up to all parts of an organization with a software development component
  2. Agile is a team based method that can be used anywhere there are teams – whether software is involved or not (yes, you can use this in your church meetings)
  3. Agile should be expanded to include the entire organization, from business stakeholders to support folks. The intent should be enterprise agility.

Anyone who knows me knows I live in the third group. I believe we need to focus on Enterprise Agility – making organizations be able to respond quickly as needed. This, of course, includes team agility (e.g., Scrum, XP, Team Kanban) but should not be limited to it.

So we have diversity. Good. I do not believe we should all believe the same thing and sing Kumbayah into the sunset. I believe diversity is good – as long as there is respect between the different camps. Respect means one can openly discuss the differences between the camps without being accused of having bad motives. Respect means one welcomes one's own beliefs being challenged. This is the best way to learn. Having different camps in Agile is a good thing – not a bad thing.

I do not want the different camps – XP, Scrum, Kanban, Crystal, Lean, Agile Alliance, APLN, ICAgile, Scrum Alliance, Lean SSC, … - to come together. I want to see them all respect each other; to allow discussions amongst each other; and to allow someone from one camp to converse in another camp when they are attempting to learn and to provoke learning. I think the Agile movement needs to become agile in its own transformation. Asking what it is and what it could be.

At Snowbird 10, I saw a lot of evidence that this is what is taking place in the community. Because of that, I am pleased and am thankful for having been there.

Alan Shalloway
CEO, Net Objectives

 

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About the author | Al Shalloway

Al Shalloway is the founder and CEO of Net Objectives. With 45 years of experience, Al is an industry thought leader in Lean, Kanban, product portfolio management, Scrum and agile design. He helps companies transition to Lean and Agile methods enterprise-wide as well teaches courses in these areas.


Comments

Thanks for the interesting post Alan. I've enjoyed following the Snowbird event via your post and others from the event.

Regarding becoming a true profession: I've been reading up on other professions recently, and feel that agile is closer than we might realise, to the way that true professionals actually think. I've just posted some details here: http://www.agilekiwi.com/other/agile/compliance-to-spec-considered-unpro...

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