Responding to Change: If You See An Iceberg, Change Course! Agile Manifesto Value #4

Welcome back to my continuing Back to Basics series. This time I’ll be covering Responding to Change: Agile Manifesto Value #4. If this is your first look at the Back to Basics posts, or want a general overview of the Agile Manifesto and its principles, please check this post.

Harnessing the Power of Change

In the last post, I talked about the need for collaboration with customers, and how original, fixed contacts stifled flexibility. This is the flexibility I was talking about. As you collaborate with your customers and get their feedback, you will learn things. Sometimes you’ll make small adjustments, but sometimes you’ll find things that require a major change of course. It seems silly, but often people can see danger coming, yet refuse to change course.  Not in Agile. When we see an iceberg, we alter course, and we check course often enough, that even if we do crash, hopefully we can correct instead of sinking.

Everybody’s Got a Plan Until They Get Punched In The Mouth

Like Iron Mike said, everybody makes a plan. However, most plans fall apart as soon as they hit adversity. Even if you try to plan for adversity, you’re going to get hit with something you didn’t expect. So why do we even value planning at all? Well as Dwight D. Eisenhower put it “Plans are useless, but planning is indispensable.”  We plan so we know what parts of the plan can change, and what this will effect. If we don’t plan, we don’t know what’s coming. We have to make a plan, knowing it will change.

Not Just For The Software

More than any of the other values, this one applies more than just the software being created. Being Agile means we need to identify not only changes in plans for software, but for plans in how we work as well.  Setting up a team is an act of planning. We plan for these people to work together on projects. Are we just going to stop if one team member gets a new job and moves on?  As we identify things need to change in the business, we respond by working to ensure these roadblocks are removed.  If we stick to the plan, indulging in the “that’s the way we always do it” mentality, we do ourselves a disservice continuing to do things we know are wrong.  Again, it seems like common sense when we say it out loud, but its surprising just how willing we all are to stick to the plan even when we know its wrong. I could continue to write about that, but there’s no way I could do it better than the book “Who Moved My Cheese” by Dr. Spencer Johnson.  I won’t tell you that you have to read it, but I highly recommend it.

Summing It Up

In Agile, we value responding to change when we find we need it.  We value plans, but more for the act of planning then the actual plan that was produced.  We must always be vigilant that we do not stick to plans just for the sake of the plan.

Did you plan to leave a comment? Respond to more than just change below! Thanks for reading!


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