Sunday, November 23, 2014

SPaMCast Question #12: Is agile dead?

Jeff, is agile is dead? I’ve heard you say that agile is dying because it lacks resilience. Therefore, would you say that the combination of agile and CMMI constitutes sort of a rebirth? ~ Tom Cagley, SPaMCast 

[NOTE: Over the past several weeks, the CMMI Appraiser has been sharing excerpts from a recent conversation with Tom Cagley on SPaMCast about whether agile is resilient – i.e., whether it will be able to spring back into shape after being bound or compressed by the pressures of development and support – and how frameworks like the CMMI can be used to make agile more resilient. Listen to the full interview at SPaMCast 296.] 


Yes, that's what I believe. I believe that without integrating the architectural strengths of the CMMI with your agile approach, agile will never be resilient enough to resist the pressure to change … and it will die a cruel death.

As such, I believe that using CMMI to strengthen agile is really the only way for agile to experience a rebirth. But organizationally, something is preventing that from happening today. For one thing, you have senior executives driving CMMI and project teams driving agile. That’s an inversion from what we really need. It should be the other way around. We need more senior executives to adopt agile values and apply them to their CMMI adoption. And we need more project teams to harness the architectural strengths of CMMI to add rigor to their agile approach. Only then will we have a meeting of the minds.

But once that happens, once we can combine these two things together, not only will we flip this inversion, but we will be able to strengthen agile. Strengthening agile will help us when our customers, who are decidedly not agile, start pushing us around and telling us we need to behave more like they do. We’ll have some strength to defend our approach to them. We’ll have data to take back to them as proof that agile really works. Then we can take our own advice and apply Agile Resiliency to our entire company.

That’s right – our entire company, not just software engineering. For example, in terms of marketing and sales, I always tell my clients that they should lead with their methodology. That is, your company “Way,” or the Way your work gets done. Having a well defined Way helps you improve all areas of the business, and reach your goals faster. And if your Way includes having Agile Resiliency, so much the better.

I have found that clients often struggle with this at first. But then I show them how logical it is. For example, if you consider your company to be a company with great agility -- and, thanks to Agile Resiliency, you have data to prove that – you will be able to show that your agility really improves performance and puts you at the top tier of your competitors. I don’t know about you, Tom, but if I'm a marketing executive, I'm leading with that.

So that’s a powerful, powerful message. But we’re not going to get it with either CMMI or agile alone. We can get it by combining them together.

Anyone interested in learning more about the Agile Resiliency concept is invited to attend our live presentation of “Agile Resiliency: How CMMI Will Make Agile Thrive and Survive.” The event takes place on in Vienna, Virginia on Tuesday, December 9th, at 6:30PM, and is hosted by the Agile Leadership Network of Washington, DC.

Like this blog? Forward to your nearest engineering or software exec!

Jeff Dalton is a Certified SCAMPI Lead Appraiser, Certified CMMI Instructor, author and consultant with years of real-world experience with the CMMI in all types of organizations. Jeff has taught thousands of students in CMMI trainings and has received an aggregate satisfaction score of 4.97 out of 5 from his students.

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