Are We Forgetting About Succeeding?

I had a great conversation with a colleague the other day about how “agile ain’t what it used to be” (fodder for another post)  and recently it seems like I spend a great deal of time either replying to people or having conversations about the proper use of “methodology or practice X“.

Technically I’m on vacation and since I don’t really consider what I do a ‘job‘ (read: I love what I do), I’ve been catching up on email, forums and other conversations on Linked In.

Is the Agile community sending the wrong message?  Do people just not get it? Why does it seem there is this overwhelming need for something to give the gold stamp?  Are Agile values and principles at odds with fundamentally how the humans behave?

Dramatic?  Maybe.

From metrics to methodology, what seems to get lost is doing the right thing or doing what’s necessary for a project/product to succeed.  Reflecting back on previous lives of being “in charge”  I don’t know how many times I’ve either talked out of my, ahem… or flat out asked the team what they think we need to do in order to be successful.  It hasn’t always worked of course but I’ve worked with some great folks who could take the data presented to them and do what they felt was the right thing at the time.

Stakeholders, project sponsors and customers really don’t give a shit if you’re using XP or Scrum or Waterfall or Shabadoo Methodology (that one is mine, TM pending…), they want results.  Whether the goal is project success, more money or whatever, however you get there doesn’t matter.  Chances are the next situation will be different so doing the same thing again probably won’t work.

This has been a source of confusion and frustration for me a few times with clients, but I think there comes a time when you work for a boss or organization that seems to get it.  Sometimes you find a boss or leader who is very much a catalyst, somebody with that “it” factor.  Somebody that knows the direction of organization whether is be selling off the company so we all get rich or somebody who understands the market and is trying to blow a vertical wide open.   I feel lucky enough having experienced this rare phenomenon  twice and whatever the goal was in those situations, it was loud and clear.

Strong leadership and a purpose seem to drive how we get results, not a process or methodology.   So what’s the point? Am I just rambling on or what?  The point is, the manifesto was created for a reason.  Use it as a guide, not the rule.  Sometimes you need less rules and process, sometimes you need the reverse.  At the end of the day, people are complex.  Teams are complex.  Throw them into another system (read: the organization) and the waters get even muddier.

That’s why I love what I do.  Each situation is unique, each challenge is different and I really dig that.