Agile vs Fragile: Success Requires Participation

Part 6 in a series of 17. To start at the beginning, first read Agile vs Fragile: A Disciplined Approach or an Excuse for Chaos.

The fourth Agile principle focuses on ensuring that collaboration between the business and the teams that deliver is active.  The principle goes so far as to say that this collaboration needs to be a daily activity, not just a weekly update, or at the beginning and end of a sprint. When the business is engaged in the project, it has a much higher chance of success. Remember, the Voke survey states that 59% of Agile projects proceed without proper business participation.  This means that in nearly 60% of all projects, development is either running the show, or is forced to move forward and figure it out by themselves.  In either case, the end result will typically be a solution that misses the mark.Agile success requires participationOne of the most interesting observations I have made about Fragile teams is the concept of being alone in a crowd.  When you observe Fragile teams, you will often see them come together for a 30-minute stand up meeting, and then the teams go back to their desks, often in the same area, and put on their headsets so that no one can bother them.  If you take a seat in the bullpen for any period of time it is a bunch of people physically in the same space, but absolutely working in a silo.  Physically co-locating teams no more guarantees they will be agile than placing a scale in my bathroom guarantees I will lose weight.  If I had my way headphones would be banned in the workspace as would the use of email as the primary communication vehicle (more on that later).

In the next installment of the blog we will talk about the 5th Agile principle. In the meantime…Keep on testing!

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Brian Copeland

About Brian Copeland (19 articles)




With over 25 years of senior level experience in the software development industry specializing in organizational transformation and development, Brian has been instrumental in the testing of critical business systems, from mission critical applications to commercial software. Mr. Copeland’s career has included 10 years as the Test Operations Manager for the Titan II, 34D, IVA, and IVB programs, managing both flight and ground software-testing facilities for Lockheed Martin. Mr. Copeland also served as the Sr. Manager of Quality Assurance for the shared services of Deloitte & Touché, LLP. His diverse experiences range across the aerospace, medical device, title insurance, legal services software, big four accounting firm, and banking industries. Brian led the global testing organization for The Nielsen Company, overseeing the successful transformation of the testing function made up of over 750 testing associates. Mr. Copeland has been a key-note speaker at the International Business Forum, and has been a featured speaker at HP Software Universe. Brian is a past president of the greater Cincinnati International Institute of Business Analysts (IIBA), and holds an ITIL v3.0 Foundations and RCV certifications.