I have spent over 30 years working in software delivery roles ranging from programmer trainee to project manager to director. Most of that delivery work was done under traditional/waterfall methodologies where it seemed we were always trying to make the process “work better,” but never really getting there. That is to say work got done, some projects got completed, and customers were usually at least accepting of what they received. However - other than a few exceptions - I do not remember customers often really being “thrilled” …
A decade ago I was asked to join an effort to roll out scrum to our enterprise. I was a only a little familiar with agile practices, so being a bit of an analytic I set out to read everything I could about scrum. As I did so I also thought about the myriad of projects I’d been on, and one of those “few exceptions” came to mind…
There was an application the business wanted now, so a small team (5) of us “experts” were put in a room and told to get it done ASAP. The product owner – anxious to make sure we could do it – stopped by just about every day to see how things were going. So the team would gather around and give him a quick update. He asked us to give him anything we could as soon as we completed it and always reminded us of what parts he’d like to see next. He really didn’t care for any documentation – just working software.
The short of it was we had some functionality in production within two months and a fairly robust application deployed in 6 months … and one overjoyed product owner.
Okay – you know where I’m going … this was really just “scrum” without the rigor (I know now we could have done even better had someone been there to coach/guide us). This was a hugely strategic project - had it occurred under the typical project structure at the time a team of BAs might have spent those 6 months trying to wring detailed requirements out of the product owner.
Well that project was many years ago, but thinking about it helped me realize an “agile culture” just plain makes sense.
Anyway, the last decade of promoting and leveraging agile have been the most energized and exciting years of my IT career.