Dr. Evil’s Laser-Beam Agile

Dad, a lot has happened with technology since you woke from your cryogenic sleep.

Scotty, do not lecture your Dad. I’m hip with the new tech talk and I want to make an announcement to my evil squad. Going forward all software death rays will be built with “the Agile”. You will “do the Agile”, you will “do the Agile” and you, over there, you too will “do the Agile”.  In fact, you need to do it twice.  We’ll be “doing” so much frikkin “Agile” that you’ll be “Agilin’” in your nightmares.

(scoffing), You don’t just “Do Agile”, there’s more to it than “doing” it.
And it’s not “the” Agile, you don’t need to put “the” in front of it.

Scotty, do not lecture your Dad. I am well-versed in what it takes to “do the Agile”, I read 3 blog posts this morning and am now an expert, my LinkedUP even says “Coach”.  “Doing Agile”, Scotty, only requires 3 things. Take note:

  1. Number 1, We no longer will plan. Plans suck, forget about frikkin plans.
  2. Number 2, which reminds me I need my morning coffee, We no longer will do any design. Designs are so 1980s, where’s my Garbage Pail Kids?
  3. Number 3, We no longer will test.  No one cares about testing.

That’s it! Get to work everyone. When I come back, there better be some serious “Agile doing” going on, with or without the “the”!

agile fu tip # 1

When working with death rays, always wear protective eyewear!

It’s not a far stretch to connect Dr Evil and his evil squad to an executive that just finished reading a powerful Ivy League business journal promoting the benefits of Agile Software Development.  It’s not a far stretch to picture Dr Evil Executive pulling a group of Directors together and telling them “we’re doing Agile now”.  As the good doctor steps away for a month to focus on things that are presumably valuable, the doctor returns and wants to see some damn fine Agile “doing”.

When the doctor is disappointed, the next step will be to get some frikkin metrics going.  “Why is Team Velociraptor’s velocity 50 and Team Turtlemonkey’s velocity 20?  I want everyone’s velocity to be 100”.  “We need to measure this stuff, I mean I can’t go to the Board without a bar graph or a pie chart.”  A stretch? Metrics can be interesting, but they are not indicators of success.

Agile Fu Tip # 2

Never name your team something stupid.

Organizations trying to transform or “do” Agile quickly get caught up in the Agile Justice System debating productivity, rules, fouls and “Agileness”.  “Well, if we’re self-organizing why do we need a Coach?  Why do we need to work Fridays?  I mean, you said ‘it’s up to the team’ and you said there’s no authority”.  Scorched Earth, chaotic Mad Max, crack out the leather, chains and dune buggies.

Self-organizing does not mean self-employed.

Do you think your customer cares if you’re “doing” Agile, doing waterfall or doing yoga?  Do you think they care if your velocity is 100 or one bill-YUN?  Do they care if your Sprint Planning is timeboxed to 4 hours?  Do they even really care if your bug escape rate improved by 13.4%?

No, no, no, no, no.

I’m going to hit you with a hard truth, your customers are in a contractual, not a covenantal, relationship with you.  Yep, if you raise your prices, offer inferior service, or fail to make their jobs easier, they will break up with you.  Over text.  You should talk to them. You should care about them.  You should lose sleep dreaming up ways to blow their minds, not their wallets.  You don’t blow their minds by giving them a software update in 3 months, in 6 months, or in a year.  And when you finally give it to them, you’ll really piss them off if its something they don’t even need.

Give them something in 3 weeks, go sit with them and ask them what they think.  Do it.  They will be impressed, they will see value in you and they will begin to transform from being a contractual acquaintance to someone who actually cares.  You may even get an invite to their daughter’s graduation.  Lucky you.

Not an Agile Fu Tip – but something that is very important (like recycling)

Graduation ceremonies suck.  Just send a fat check and be out-of-town

The next time you are debating Agile mechanic A vs Agile mechanic B, Agile theory A vs Agile theory B, look at your compass.  When you look for North, you will see your new guide; it is putting the customer at the center.  When you put the customer at the center of everything, humble your own opinions and ideas, you will find the path of truth.  Instead of saying “Well, Agile mechanic A is reinforced by this author and that author” – instead ask “Which one of these benefits our customer the most?”.

Agile Fu Tip # 3

Being Agile also means being humble

What’s stopping  you?  Worried about story point estimating?  Worried about burning down hours?  Worried about a stakeholder being in your Retrospective?  Quit focusing on the mechanics and concern yourself with outcomes, results, and meaningful value. Quit “doing” Agile and start making happy customers.

If you want radically different results you have to do things radically different.  Agile Fu believes in taking Agility to the NEXT LEVEL.  NEXT LEVEL is a mythical planet where the inhabitants care about big picture results.  At Agile Fu, we will follow you anywhere you want to go, as long as it’s forward.  Next Leveleans couldn’t care less about pointing bugs or having requirements 3 sprints ahead. Instead, they concern themselves with Stuff the Board Cares About and ask, will this help…

  1. … close more sales?
  2. … boost our customer’s NPS?
  3. … make our engineers the happiest engineers on the planet?

If you want to ascend to the next level and graduate from squabbling over Agile mechanics and Agile metrics, grab your big girl and big boy pants and start inspecting if your decisions, actions, and behaviors are really making a difference to your Sales professionals, to your Service and Support professionals, and to your bread-and-butter; your Engineers.  Agile is nothing if its not motivating customer’s to sign-up, spend more money or refer other customers.

Agile Fu Tip # 4

Everyone should clearly understand the vision of how Agile helps your organization kick ass

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