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Beyond Scrum?

[Adapted from a post to our internal Slack team.]

My manager has been working to get an agile consultancy into our university's central IT department to help us progress in our journey toward being more agile. I hope that the training and coaching we receive will focus more on the root principles of value in agile processes rather than on a single process like Scrum.

Are there any root agile principles that you think we need to be better at embracing? Here are some that come to mind for me.
  • Develop functionality vertically instead of horizontally. You don't create the database layer all the way, and then the web services layer all the way, and finally--after 9 months--start to create the web user interface. Instead, you find a way to introduce a complete feature that touches all those technology layers so that you can get real feedback about the usage and value of the system or feature.
  • Be willing to throw things away. If we're going to experiment, we have to be okay building things "incorrectly" the first time. We won't realize it is incorrect or suboptimal, so we're not building it badly on purpose. But we don't want to be stuck in analysis mode too long. We want to get something to users that they can feel and give us feedback on. This is ultimately more reliable than our up-front analysis. (I'm not arguing for no analysis or design, just not to let it go on too long.)
  • Develop a culture of testing. This includes user testing, unit testing, A/B testing. Pre-release testing. Post-release testing.
  • Encourage teams to reflect on how their version of the project process is working. This is the concept behind a sprint retrospective. I've been really bad at encouraging this, but I should be better.
These thoughts were stimulated by receiving this article in my inbox this morning. "Life After Scrum: Development Methodologies for DevOps"

Here are some interesting quotes from the article.
DevOps stalls unless organizations move past Scrum
Many people erroneously equate "doing Scrum" with "being agile"
Be aware that constraints to autonomy may be indirect. For example, teams cannot choose to employ an estimates-free way of working if they are subject to governance processes that demand estimates. Similarly, enterprise-mandated tools such as enterprise agile planning software may enforce processes.
This previous quote about tools guiding our process is one we definitely want to think about as we adopt NetSuite as our OIT ERP tool.
Accept that a short-term disruption is a part of growing into a high-performing team.


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