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Business Agile Adoption

Pulse Check

02/05/2014 by Todd Wilson

Agile organizations are bringing higher-quality products to market faster than ever before. A partnership between technology and business must form, and each side must invest equally in this relationship. I've heard the following phrase uttered too many times to count: "The business just doesn't get it," or, my favorite, "They're just not Agile."

The first time I heard the latter phrase was from a development team member who had just been to a training class and was entering sprint number three. My first instinct was to yell, "Hypocrite!" and order the lad to walk the plank with a sword pressed firmly against his back. (I had already decided that I would substitute the light saber on my desk for the sword.) However, finding a ship with a plank was proving to be difficult. Thankfully, I had a second, more productive idea.

Due only to the lack of a pirate ship, I decided to ask, in a nonthreatening and empathetic way, what an Agile business looked like to this developer. I asked for his opinion, so there was no right or wrong answer. I paused for a few seconds after his answer and then asked, "So, how can you help the business become more Agile?" A much longer conversation was inspired, but the focus of this article is to answer the following question:

How do you know the business has adopted Agile practices?

True to Lean and Agile thinking, I'm suggesting a simple pulse check. As a developer, you can be confident that your business is adopting Agile practices when business stakeholders:

  1. Have helped define a backlog that is five iterations out.
    1. Three iterations' worth of backlogs meet these criteria: Independent, Negotiable, Valuable, Estimable, Sized appropriately, and Testable (INVEST).
    2. Two iterations' worth of backlogs meet the Independent, Negotiable, Valuable (INV) criteria.
  2. Have defined a release cadence.
  3. Have defined business value for each release and iteration.
  4. Provide direct and actionable feedback to the development team during review meetings.
  5. Provide feedback to the development team throughout each iteration.
  6. Continuously inspect and adapt in an effort to improve their processes.
  7. Respect the rules, roles, and boundaries of the development team.
A coach or ScrumMaster can use a pulse check as an easy way to illustrate business adoption. More important, it provides a compass to those who should be interested in helping business succeed in their adoption. We are all walking along the same path. Collectively, we should be looking for ways to help one another over any obstacle that interferes with our progress.