Last week I had the good fortune of attending the Agile Business Conference. There were some excellent presentations most notably from the opening and closing keynote speeches.
Stephen Carver’s talk ‘Agile Lessons from the Battle of Britain’ really sold the purpose of Agile without using any of the associated languages or terminology. It included the audio transcripts from US airways flight 1549 which lost its engines and was forced to land in the Hudson River. It was a perfect example of how to act in a crisis, stay calm and keep looking for options! The talk also included lots of examples of how the vastly outnumbered and demoralised RAF were able to take on and beat the Luftwaffe under the command of Hugh Dowding, by committing planes only when the chance of victory was greatest. Despite calls within the RAF high command to commit to a larger offensive tactic ‘The Big Wing’.
Dan North’s closing keynote speech ‘Why Agile Doesn’t Scale’ was a controversially titled talk about the challenges of taking agile from one or two teams to a full enterprise way of working. Dan made the point that for Agile to be successful at scale it needs large numbers of people to understand what the agile manifesto and principles means. It is our responsibility as practitioners to make this happen. This final speech really reinforced an epiphany I had whilst there…
“Both agile and ITIL focus on IT delivering business value. But IT and the business don’t talk the same language. This is a massive barrier to achieving that goal.”
So in a break between presentations I turned to Yammer and posted the following:
The early results reflected my hunch, that people had heard of agile but didn’t necessarily know what it was about. How can we expect agile to be successful if it’s not well understood?
This led me to follow up with a series of posts explaining the basic premises of agile and scrum. Other scrum masters and team members also joined and contributed their experience of working with SCRUM and what some of the key challenges were to them.
The feedback was great loads of people were interested and wanted to learn more. In the next few weeks I intend to follow up with more posts describing other IT terminology to improve awareness of what we do and how we provide that all important business value!
By the way if you don’t have Yammer in your organisation already, get it! Especially if you work in a distributed organisation. It is a fantastic tool for engaging with staff and hearing their points of view.