Physics of Being Agile


Recently, with all those vibes about SCRUM going around in our organization, a couple of colleagues went for “Certified SCRUM Master” training, incidentally same person trained myself and one other colleague 6 months ago. I got a chance to talk to him over phone and was glad to accept his offer to be a guest speaker in his session. It was difficult to find what to talk, what was expected from me was to share how we are implementing it and our journey with SCRUM. However, understanding the nature of the training environment it was pretty clear for me to send a message to the audience, I just wanted to talk about what can be the real world implementation issues one can have with SCRUM or any other AGILE practise implementation in a place where such concepts are not known.

Jim Collins in his book “Good To Great” started off to explain what is the Physics of going from Good to Great. While trying to understand what he means I started to think Agile as Physics albeit Modern Physics. Why??. Because Classical Physics is governed by Laws, the very nature of Laws is their rigidity. And rigidity is something which is quite alien to Agile. In fact Agile Manifesto itself talks about Principles, which are not that rigid in nature. Try comparing this with Principles in Modern Physics, like the Heisenberg Principle of Uncertainty. Just like how we cannot determine the position and momentum of a particle simultaneously, I see some very similar striking similarities in software.

So what is uncertainty in software, we cannot easily and simultaneously predict the direction of the software and the time when that can be achieved. This very nature of software makes it more an Empirical Approach, rather than a Predictive Approach.

Next came, a statement which is quite close to my heart, this helps me measure the direction in which I am heading. Remember the book “The Goal” I talked about in my previous post. How about little Physics against your Goals? Smile

“Any action which is taking you towards your Goal is productive.“

“Any action which is taking you away from your Goal is counter-productive.“

What is our goal here? Our goal here is to be “Agile” so we measure our actions with the Agile manifesto’s principles, this helps us in understanding the Philosophy of Being Agile.

The last point(s) I talked about was the real challenges we face in our day to day implementation of SCRUM. Initially when I heard that it is not easy I was not believing it. But when we saw that it is hurting us back then I realised the challenges.

As an advocator of Agile practises you might face several of challenges, but I can make out only two :

  • People: It is hard to explain people the philosophy of Being Agile until they see it practically happening.  To make it happen you need like-minded people who should be willing to
    • Experiment, learn and experiment without fear of failing.
    • Fight for the cause, be in regular confrontation mode for the common goal.
    • Sacrifice their mediocrity for a greater good.
  • Organizational: Sometimes it is difficult to implement Agile because the scale in which the organizations want to implement it. That’s if they like it they want to implement it as a big-bang. But that’s not how you can implement Agile practises. These principles needs to be infused, SLOWLY….take small steps and show visible improvements.
      • Sometimes there are financial implications
      • Sometimes there are people waiting for decisions from top management
      • Sometimes there are timing issues, example you are already in between of a release, obviously you wont try your hands on new stuff which can jeopardise your current schedule.
      • Sometimes there are simply lack of proper engineering practises to deal with the shorter iteration philosophy of being agile.
      • and many many more..

I believe somewhere there are solutions, being with thinkers and innovators can definitely help in this case.

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About ssmantha

A Technologist and Evangelist, with more than 9 years of extensive experience in Microsoft and related Technologies. Working as Technical Solution Architect in To-Increase India since Sep 2006 Role - Technical Solution Architect responsible for creating cutting edge solutions in the Microsoft Dynamics Ax and NAV using .Net framework. Satya enjoys work involving implementation and integration of .NET and related Microsoft Technologies including Microsoft Dynamics AX and NAV, apart from playing around with new software technologies. He successfully built development tools which assists ERP teams to develop better solutions using Agile Practices. Using TFS 2010, Visual Studio 2010 he integrated the Development Processes with the Microsoft Dynamics Ax and NAV. By automating the development processes using the tools and technology, he was able to educate the practices, which in turn is helping people focus more on building innovative products rather than maintaining them. His latest work include a successful integration of ERP on Cloud, a pretty stable integration interface to a third party vendor. Another feather in his cap, automating TFS builds for Dynamics Suite of products on both AX and NAV. He is currently focusing on technologies surrounding ERP on cloud, Mobile Connectivity, XRM 2011 and many more. His areas of interest also include helping Development Teams work in a more structured way using Agile practices. Currently, Satya is working on the a Next-Generation of Business Integration Solutions for Microsoft Dynamics NAV 2013. Using industry proven architecture, he and his team are working on simplifying the domain of integration. Some key work areas he contributed on, Document Processor, Created a Data Model Mapping language and compiler working in tandem with XSLT transformation, and modular Integration Pipeline Architecture design.

One thought on “Physics of Being Agile

  1. Pingback: Physics of Being Agile | Pardaan.com

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