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I want to run an agile project

This is all too funny!  Whilst the video is intended to be humorous, the pain of the “Agile Guy” maybe all too familiar for some.  Agile changes many things we have become use to over many years – agile questions the status quo and challenges our muscle memory……..

Cargo Cult Agile – It’s More Than Just Stand Ups

Most people associate daily stand ups or daily Scrums when they think of Agile.  And they are often the first practice that is adopted. I have observed some teams adopt the daily stand ups and a little of other practices (often with smells/anti-patterns) and say they are Agile.

The adoption of agile methods and practices is clearly producing enviable results by improving quality, time to market, productivity, increasing transparency and ROI. Agile is simple, but it is not easy. Few things that are truly worth doing are easy to do, and the adoption of Agile is no exception. As a result there is a propensity for Cargo Cult Agile teams looking for a silver bullet.

Cargo Cult refers to a phenomenon during World War II in the South Pacific where the natives observed what the Allied Forces were doing. The natives were not aware of the modern civilization, however, they did observed that certain actions of the military resulted in supplies of food, clothing, equipment and various other cargo being air dropped. When the war ended, the flow of goods and cargo ended too. Not understanding the underlying mechanisms for the delivery of cargo and in an attempt to attract further deliveries, the natives engaged in ritualistic practices such as building crude imitation landing strips, aircraft and radio equipment, and mimicking the behavior that they had observed of the military personnel operating them. However, no matter how well they mimicked the military actions, the cargo did not return.

In Agile we sometimes behave like Cargo Cult by imitating the superficial Agile methods and practices without having any understanding of the underlying essence. We adopt the daily stand up meeting because it is easy to do and many Agile teams use it. However, if the team is synchronized, communicating and collaborating well, the daily stand up may not be required.

What works for you, your team, organization, etc. can bring another person, team, etc. to a screeching halt. No practice will work for everyone or every team in every context. Before adopting any practice or technique, you should ask yourself does it make sense and does it align with the Agile values and principles? Does it help me deliver software more quickly to my customers? Does it help with achieving technical excellence? Will it help my team to be more effective?

You not only need to know the ‘what’ of Agile but also the ‘why’. Just because jumping jacks works for someone else, it may not work for you.

Lean and Agile Games

Learning about Lean and Agile is often done best through some games.  Lean and Agile games provide an opportunity for teams to grasp lean and agile concepts and practices, share experience, realise better ways of working, and help facilitate your ‘aha’ or ‘Lightbulb Moment‘.

And they are fun!

Below is a short collection of Lean and Agile game resources you might want to try with your teams:

I have found watching David Joyce conducting Dr W. Edwards Deming’s Red Bead Experiment which sheds light on systems thinking and quality to be very entertaining. Here’s a video of David running the experiment at Agile Sydney.

You might also want to check out the AgileGames Google Group.

Growing up with Lego, some of my favorite games are to do with Lego.

Please leave a comment with any other Lean and Agile games you have found useful.

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