There are many articles that extol the merits of Agility. Is it a real revolution or just a new fad?

Business Analyst since 2002, I knew well:

  • the hundred-page framing document… never read;
  • more than detailed specifications… of almost indecent weight;
  • recipe notes… signed with our blood.

In general, the documentation is stored at the end of the project… and never updated again. What is left of it? Did Agility sign her death?

I do not think so. But for all that, it is clear that our businesses are changing. How else would we ask the developers to make demos, or even to come into direct contact with the profession… Was not this the role of the Sacred Master of the work? I still see some who are chilly. And yet. Product Owner since 2011, my greatest satisfaction is that of a successful project, where all members put themselves in danger, learned from each other and grew up together. The team thus becomes a living organism where everyone finds their place, in a constructive and ambitious movement.

I am convinced that the key to success is communication.

Because we all have to learn. It is true that the first time that a Scrum Master gives his opinion on the User Stories, one asks questions. The first demos may be a bit messy. But what a joy to see our product appear. We did it, and it changed the customer’s life! It’s not just about com ‘, it gives meaning to our job. Because together we only cut stones, we build a cathedral!

* Three stonecutters fashion a stone side by side. The first one works mechanically, and when asked what he does, he looks astonished: "I cut a stone." The second is more methodical, and calmly explains that he cuts a stone to build a wall. While the third works so conscientiously that it looks like he is cutting a diamond. He responds with a broad smile: "I am building a cathedral".

— Unknown author

Les Casseurs de pierre, de Courbet (1849)

So I agree, the cathedral is not done in a day. Change management is a process that requires time. The success of the project involves questioning one’s experience, roles and hierarchies. More broadly, the project succeeds if all its members have a common vision and love of our raw material to us, the job well done. If together we remain focused on the service rendered and the search for the satisfaction, even the astonishment of the customer.

The second key to success is to become Radically Customer-Centric and, why not, disruptive.

It’s true that the team is gaining confidence, speed and maturity. But it is also true that change is not done alone. We learn to change our glasses and to put ourselves in the skin of the user, and that is necessarily paying. It’s a mutation to become Radically Customer-Centric. It’s not the features that matter, but the user experience!

  • Changes in how to specify: I describe a need, not a feature.
  • More autonomy for the developer: he acts as a true project manager, he builds a real solution!
  • Another way to test: the cases of acceptance … these forgotten ones. This is where we project ourselves into the future product.

So, there would only be positive in Agility? Not quite, I see pitfalls. The process is time consuming, it takes time to communicate well. The writing of the User Stories, the ceremonies …

  1. The retro, very important. What did we do well? What are we proud of? What obstacles did we encounter? How to surpass them?
  2. The demo, with these questions and answers and cases of use that we had not thought about.
  3. The presentation, prioritization and estimation of user stories. We continue to exchange!

But the time spent in ceremony, it is uncertainties that are raised, the time we gain in testing, fewer anomalies. Smoother deliveries, know-how and know-how, fantastic!

The other point to raise is, again and again, the documentation of the project. Because there is no magic solution. User Stories, to be effective, are short, business oriented. It is not uncommon to have more than a hundred on the same project. So when we come back on what the product has to do … I admit, we can be lost. Hence the interest of documentation finalized in a SharePoint for example. It will remain a question, its update …

Dilbert & the Agility