Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Fixed Price Agile Contracts

Jeff wrote excellent blog about applying Scrum into sales process.

I get this question about how to do fixed price & scope subcontracting over and over again and I usually start asking about their partnership with the customer. In most cases it is all about trust (or politics..) ... actually lack of it. Contracts are made to cover up the areas where there is no trust between the parties. I am not saying that you do not need contracts - you do as we are doing business after all - but I think the focus should be more on collaboration and communication about incentives rather than what are the delivered features and what is the time frame (and what are the sanctions if supplier won't make it).

As Mary Poppendieck has done excellent job putting this all down to a presentation I won't elaborate it more here for now.

Totally about different topic, but still important enough: It's often surprising how incentives end up pulling people in the wrong direction. See daily WTF for real life example.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

What is Agile?

Think the following: "Be inside your enemy's decision cycle - if you can decide faster than your enemy then you will be victorious over her".

Agility is about establishing yourself on changing environment - it is a survival strategy for changing conditions where the environment (be that market conditions or customer changing her mind) throwing changes at you constantly and unpredictably.

The ultimate agility test is modern warfare. It is a good example about leaders to stand back and let the team on the field do the decisions on the spot.

How the team can do that? Or better, how do you as leader enable them to do that? You must lead team cause the team won't get anything done until you provide a vision or goal for them to accomplish. "I want you to accomplish this, but it is up to you how do you get it done and how fast you can get it done". Isn't it funny that most leaders in agile training will ask "so what's my role in Agile as the team will self organize and I must not interfere the team or if I will the ScrumMaster will protect the team from me"?

Now as the environment changes on the field (imagine that warfare still), the team can do kind of plan-do-check-act (in military they actually do OODA) on the spot based on the common goal and more over the teams decision will be more likely right as they share the goal and organizational principles if you will. Think about the movie Blackhawk Down when a Blackhawk went down the teams acted immediately. They changed their plan accordingly and started executing it as they knew that the principle is 'Leave no man behind' - is that happening in your organization?

... Are you Agile?

Without the goal they will either do wrong decision or even worse, do not do decision at all.. and if the company culture is not open enough, they won't even raise impediment about it.

If you want to measure your agility, one way to do that is to check how many Agile Machismo points you get or read about it.

If you got interested about hearing more about this check out an excellent podcast or/and contact us to do Agile Assessment in your organization.