2012 Agile Predictions

Episode special

January 24, 2012


The Agile Weekly Crew, Alan Dayley and Perry Reinert discuss predictions for Agile in 2012.

**Roy: vandeWater:** Hello and welcome to another ScrumCast. I’m Roy: vandeWater.

Alan Dayley: I’m Alan Dayley.

Derek Neighbors: I’m Derek Neighbors.

Perry Reinert: And I’m Perry Reinert.

Jade Meskill: And I’m Jade Meskill.

Roy:: I would like to welcome you to a special edition of the ScrumCast. About 12 months ago, we all got together and came up with several predictions on what we felt were going to happen throughout the year, with regards to Scrum and Agile. We’d like to take a moment, real quick, to reflect on our predictions of last year and see how well that went, and then also make some new predictions for the upcoming year.

Alan, you made several predictions last year? What you felt really happened and didn’t happen?

Losing Labels, Community Conflict

Alan: I thought the most promising thing was to start losing the labels around the different frameworks, and I saw a movement happening in that regard. I think that was a pretty safe prediction. It’s happening.

My secondary one, on community, I also predicted there was going to be some conflict around that movement. In my opinion, at least on the email lists and other places where conflict seems to grow, those sorts of things aren’t happening. We’ve got some people who are adamant about losing the labels and mixing and matching different parts of different frameworks.

They’re very upset when somebody says, “No, we need to do Scrum or we need to do Kanban or whatever it is.” I think those are pretty safe predictions. They did happen, and they continue to happen.

Winners or losers, I failed implementations. I have a client right now in fact, that is doing really well, or was doing fairly well on their own, but told me, “No, we don’t need you,” and then several months later said, “Yeah, would you come help us”? I think that’s happening a lot.

Roy:: Perry?

Legalism and Frameworks

Perry: Yeah, I definitely, I was jumped onboard with Alan on the verbiage. I think we had, my notes show legalism and frameworks. That’s the sort of getting spun‑up on the details versus the real concepts around Agile.

We’re definitely making progress. As it grows up, as we get more mature, as more people actually really understand Agile instead of just, “Read the book and try to follow the recipe,” then they’re in a better position to adapt the real principles to what they need to do.

I think we’re still making progress there. I also had around community predicted changes in certification. I think we’ve definitely had changes around certifications. We’ve seen the spring up of IC Agile, Scrum Alliance has made some changes, just for example, the CSP has changed from the 10‑page form to that’s now an exam.

I think we’re going to continue to see changes in there also. Winners and losers, I had developers who would continue to win in the Agile world. I think there’s no progress in there, but I’m really feeling like that’s still the next big thing to trying not to get into future predictions now. I think we made progress, there’s more progress there.

New things, I said exploring lean principles in usability. The lean principles definitely, all of those Agile practices and principles I think are coming together as we mature and usability is still a big thing. I would have liked to have seen even more progress there, but I think we’re making steady progress in those areas.

Roy:: Derek, how did your predictions and the beyond?

Revolt Against Process, Coaches

Derek: I think my first prediction was getting back to the roots of the manifesto not being quite so process focused, and I failed that one miserably. I think I’m about three years ahead of the curve on it. I suspect, in about two years, we’ll actually get there.

I think step one Alan and Perry got right on, and that’s now everybody’s just bitching and fighting about which process is the right one. I think ultimately they’ll come to find that it’s really about the routes of the manifesto, and the processes that we use don’t really mean shit when it comes down to it. They’re just tools to implement the bigger things. I think I failed on that one because it was a little too early.

On powershifting away from trainers back to coaches, I think that’s starting to happen a little bit. I didn’t accelerate quite as much as I thought, but Scrum coach retreat certainly saw a number of CSTs that are now doing a lot more coaching engagements instead of training.

They’re not feeling as fulfilled doing the training, they understand that they’re not seeing the lasting change in organizations when they just come in and train, and there’s not coaching there. I think that’s starting to play out a little bit last year and I think we’ll see a little more of it this year.

Winners and losers, I said everyone loses if we don’t have people challenge how we currently do things. I think that we started to have people challenge it. Right now, they’re challenging it by saying, “My framework’s better than your framework, ha‑ha‑ha, I challenge you to prove me otherwise.”

That’s starting to unearth deeper and deeper issues with like the Stoos gathering to just recently happened. I granted that was this year, I guess earlier this year. Before we recorded this, they are trying to challenge some of management smother things that are going a little bit deeper then process. I think that there is some challenging happening.

Roy:: Jade, how about your predictions?

Worldwide Growth, Bottom Up Adoption

Jade: I said that there would be a lot of growth of agile outsie of the United States and that is certainly happening. One of the things I personally missed was, I talked about inspiring a lot of bottom up adaption of agile. For me, personally, I have actually been working a lot more with executive teams on top down adoption of agile. That’s quite an interesting thing.


Productive Conflict

Roy:: Alan, you said last year you were planning on working harder to train, encourage and train productive conflict. How do you feel that went for you throughout the year?

Alan: I do not think it did very well. The team I had in mind to do that with was disbanded shortly after that podcast and I have to admit that I lost focus on that. It’s an interesting conundrum how to tell people that the conflict is good if you to do it the right way you do it with trust. I just don’t feel like I either haven’t focused on that, or I haven’t felt like I have been on the situation, to focus on that as the hard problem that the team has.

The teams that I am working with now have the hard problem of portfolio prioritization and how to get backlog right. We seem to be spending a lot of time with that and I am not sure that I have had the opportunity to do that but that maybe an excuse.

Applying Lean Principles

Roy:: Perry, you had said that you are going to explore and practice some different lean principles into your work and try to do a very good job to understand the customer and increase its ability.

Perry: Lean principles not so much other than just touting, [inaudible 07:45] , and maintaining. The team needs to be aware when stories are backing up and they are completed but not releasable types we have harped on it. Now, what I really want to do there, the usability we have made some progress.

It’s more around how do you get from product management having ideas of what to do and understanding, and how to figure out what the customer really wants. We call them the target benefits and what those are. We’ve definitely made tons of progress in that.

Roy:: Derek, you said you tried to get teams to value relationships in humanist and encourage creativity by looking bigger than the product.

Agile In Education

Derek: I think the first one happened on a scale larger than I could ever imagine but not in the way that happened. That was within our own Integrum team. We made a significant radical shift in our team size and what we value as a team. I am on the most human team I have ever worked with, the most transparent and vulnerable group of consultants and I am really proud of that.

But that’s not what I meant when I said that. I was actually talking about targeting external teams. I guess being your own dog food is a good thing. Now we know what is involved in some of that and what happens when you get really real. Encouraging creativity by looking outside the product, we are starting to do that and looking to start an engagement that is looking to do this in a fairly radical way.

If that works, hopefully next year I would be able to talk about some of the success we had with that. We are doing quite a bit work with education. Work outside of the software industry altogether where the product is actually somebody’s education. It came through seventh or eighth grader and that excites me to be thinking about it in that way.

Bottom Up Agile Adoption

Roy:: Jade, you said that you try to inspire bottom‑up adaption of agile.

Jade: Like I said earlier, because of the shift in the way that Integrum has changed, I ended up actually working with more executive teams, talking about how to make not only their development teams more agile, but the executive teams themselves.

Roy:: Awesome. Looking at the upcoming years, what do you guys feel is the most promising thing that is going to happen in 2012?

Principles Over Process, Failed Agile

Derek: To me, I think a most promising thing is that I think we’ll see more early adopters of agile, realizing that just implementing agile processes didn’t have the results that they really wanted. They had short‑term results, but not the long‑term results they wanted, and that they start to dig deeper to go into the actual principles beyond the process.

I think that we’re just going to start seeing that scratch the surface that you’re going to see some companies start to potentially make some significant change outside of process around agile.


Jade: To jump on that bandwagon, I think this is the year of leadership. This is the year that people are really going to start paying attention to how they are leading their teams and how they can lead their teams and their companies well. I don’t think we’re going to make a whole lot of progress during this year, but I think the awareness is really going to bubble to the surface.

Creative Workplaces

Perry: I see something that perhaps can be tagged as a negative, but I find it promising. There’s a shift, a tide, that’s coming for us. Particularly, I’m thinking of companies in the United States. There’s a lot of companies that continue to work the way it was state of the art in 1970 or 1960, with mentalities about factory workers, et cetera, even though they’re doing creative things, or attempting to do creative things.

That has worked for a long time. For several decades, anyway. There’s a lot of things happening in the world that is going to, I think, surprise some companies and shock them.

Hopefully, the positive spin to this is that, I think, some people who are not willing to look at agile, or haven’t been willing to look at agile and some of those principles, whether they call it agile or not, they’re going to start looking and thinking about how to create some creative environments for their people to work in as opposed to factories.

More Training

Alan: I’m not sure if this is what I think is going to happen or just more of a hope, but I’m still back on the training and the education. I see the changes that are coming. I’ve seen Scrum Alliance make changes, the ICAgile outline for additional…I think it’s just deeper training.

I think that’s the key, because, like last year, I felt like all we really had was CSMs and CSP. Now I’m starting to see a lot more training. Integrum is doing trainings on release plannings. I’m seeing those very specific, real, just‑in‑time targeted, and I just want to say real ‑‑ again, real training, and that’s where I think the community as a whole will actually benefit from that type of training.

Roy:: Speaking of community, how do you think that the agile community will be changing, or what do you think is going to happen within the agile community throughout the next year?

Fractured Community

Derek: I think it’s going to get more fractured and more tense, at least in the beginning part of the year, and, I suspect, it’ll go throughout. You’ve got three or four different organizations trying to do certification, you’ve got the “my process is bigger than your process,” and everything in between.

I think that’s going to heat up and come to a boil before the good stuff comes. I think you’re going to see more of the “choose your allegiance, choose your side, we’re going to war,” David Anderson and Kanban versus [inaudible 14:23] and eXtreme Programming XP, Scrum Alliance, Mike Cohn, whoever, doing their throwdown.

I think, overall, most of those guys know that it’s about the deeper principles, but they’ve got empires to, somewhat, protect, so it’s difficult to let some of that go and not be steadfast about your beliefs. I think that it’s going to take a while to shed some of that.

Perry: On that, though, because there’s that competition, it will blow up, but they’re trying to leap‑frog each other a little bit. These trainings, I think, are going to be trying to outdo themselves ‑‑ I’m hoping. It may not be this year, but I think that’ll be a good thing, all of that turmoil.

Alan: The other shoe, or the other side to that coin, I see a lot of discussion with some people, at least, that I think are leaders in the agile community, not necessarily those that have a vested interest in one framework or another, are coming to realize that the training that’s specific to a framework, or the training that’s just generic, doesn’t always fit.

I had a recent discussion online with a gentleman in Europe. He writes a lot of interesting things about agile and some of the things that we live by, but he goes and he researches, finds the source, and discovers that they’re myths. That’s not to break down agile or to tear it down, but he’s trying to create reality around it.

We’ve had discussions that point out things like there are literally 100,000, how many there are, CSMs out there, the vast majority of them probably should not have been trained as CSM. They probably should have been trained with CSPO product owner, or they should have been trained as developers, or whatever. The CSM was the generic stamp of agile.

Derek: To point to some of those numbers, I was looking the other day ‑‑ they released them yesterday or the day before ‑‑ I believe there are currently 150,000 CSMs, but there’s only, I want to say, 9,000 CSDs. I can’t believe that their management ratio is that high between number of developers…


Derek: …to number of Scrum Masters or Project Masters, whatever classification they were coming from.

Perry: Right. I think people are starting to realize that one size doesn’t fit all. We’ve got to figure out what is best for each person, and then you balloon that up what is best for this organization ‑‑ is it Kanban? Is it XP? What’s the thing that should happen first? It’s not always the generic answer that has been for a while in those people’s minds. I think that’s a positive thing for the community.

Roy:: Jade?

Jade: I think that, if we look at the Tuckman model, this is the year of storming.


Roy:: Last year, you made predictions ‑‑ not predictions, let’s call them commitments ‑‑ on what you would do to improve yourself with regards to Agile throughout the next year. Alan, or some of you, what are you going to do this upcoming year to improve yourself?

Writing More

Alan: I have recently figured out that I was much happier when I wrote more, so I’m going to write more. This is a very individual, personal thing.

I think, as I write more, it lets me formulate thoughts and learn them better, so that I can help the people that I’m trying to help. I can help much more efficiently and effectively.

I’m saying here, in the most public way I can, that I’m going to write more on my blog and I’m going to write more on my own personal diaries, if you will, that I used to keep a lot. I got away from that this last year, and I need to go back to that.

My personal self improvement goal is to use writing as a way to process my thoughts and pass that benefit on to the people that I work with.

Roy:: Perry, how about you?

Reading More

Perry: I wish I could say writing. I’m going the opposite route. I’m going with reading.

This year, I’ve set goals right around the 30 number for the number of books that I’d like to actually read this number.

Jade: A month?


Perry: Read this year. I wish it was a month, but for me, that’s an increase. That’d be a good number for me to get to this year.

Roy:: Derek?

Frameworks Outside Agile

Derek: I’ve got a couple. One of the big ones is to explore seriously frameworks outside of Agile that are complementary to Agile, around leadership, systems thinking, human systems dynamic, or the Cynefin network. Other frameworks that people in other disciplines are talking about and to see how to start to map those to organizational or leadership type of roles.

Additionally, I really want to make a big push for having organizations gain agility outside of software. I think, one of the biggest problems that we currently have is the only real samples we use are software. We make all these crazy exceptions and do all these really stupid things because it makes sense for software from a process perspective.

I think, if we were dealing with something that wasn’t a deliverable product, like software, maybe we would have better definitions of what our beliefs really are. Then, the last one is this is the year that I’m going to make a concentrated effort to try to save the Scrum alliance from themselves.

That is, right now, their position to really hold the champion flag for Agile, from a resource perspective and from a number of members’ perspectives, they are really falling down on the job. I’m really going to try to see what I can do to make a difference in that space.

Roy:: Jade, how about you?

Innovative Cultures

Jade: My goals are frighteningly aligned with Derek’s. I think we are very much on the same page there. One thing I would like to do is really talk aggressively with organizations about, “What does it really mean to have an innovated culture”? That’s it really time, right now, to adapt or die.

That there’s capitalistic Darwinism happening and now is the time to get ahead of that curve before you’re one of the dinosaurs.

Alan: That’s great.

Roy:: Awesome. Thank you guys all for joining us. I hope you enjoyed this special edition of the ScrumCast. Bye‑bye.

Jade: Bye.

Perry: Bye‑bye.

Alan: Thanks.

Derek: See you next year.

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