Are We There Yet?
How to know when we are done with our Agile journey
18 May 2017
Anyone who has taken a long trip with children knows that there is more truth than cliché to the quip, "Are we there yet?" It seems to happen without fail. I remember once when my family was driving out of town. As we drove past the airport, my young daughter got upset when she realized that we weren’t going to fly. About two hours into it, I was also upset that we weren’t flying because I kept hearing, "Are we there yet?" I had no idea how to answer that question. I finally said, "Yes. Get out." Evidently, she was smart enough to know we weren’t there yet, and she stayed in the car.
Experience as a signpost
It may have been easy for me to know that we weren’t there — after all, we were still driving. My daughter, though, couldn’t determine whether we had arrived. She had never been to our destination. She had no experience that could give her the answer. The answer came with experience rather than intuition.
Are we at our Agile destination?
So how do we know when we have arrived at our Agile destination? When are we done? That is a tough question to answer. I've thought long and hard about it, and I can't say that I’ve always known the answer myself. It's only been through experience that I can say whether we have achieved our Agile goals.
To me, it comes down to simple criteria. We are done when we no longer desire an increase in speed or quality. We are done when we can maintain that pace indefinitely. We are done when we release frequently, when we adjust to current issues, and when we have removed all the waste.
There is a lot to do. In the words of the (Agilist) author Mark Twain, "The secret of getting ahead is getting started. The secret of getting started is breaking your complex, overwhelming tasks into small, manageable tasks, and then starting on the first one."
Just as I would tell my daughter, I can say this: "You will know we're there when we have arrived." I encourage all to enjoy the journey. There is lots to see and do along the way. Progress is measurable. For us, we have just begun.
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