Sunday, June 7, 2009

Agile, Shuhari and Commandoes

Guys operating in a Ri stage are like trained and experienced commandos. Commando training in the martial arts, plus orientation on a different Value System and Collaborative Team Work. In a given endeavor and its context, they need to manage both the "outputs" and the "outcomes" appropriately.

Scrum only talks about managing the outcomes. Without understanding how to manage the outputs, achieving outcomes would remain a mere passion. I was greatly inspired by a statement of Tom Peters in his book "Thriving on Chaos". He said "Most Quality Programs fail for two reasons : they have Passion without Systems or Systems without Passion". Now we can see this in real within the practice of Agile Software Development or in the rote implementations of heavy processes in so called L5 organizations.

I have been delivering free short-duration (2hrs) Tech Talks on Agile to larger software organizations in the recent past and have covered about 20 organizations so far and am to cover another 20 in the next couple of months. One participant asked me : if this is true, how do we do Agile ? I said, I would not know your organization context but you could do the following:

1. Identify guys in your organization who are potential commando material. Create an inventory list of such people. All in your organization may not fit to be commandoes. It requires an EQ, Team Play and being a good learner with a willingness to be honest, mature, committed and transparent.

2. Once you have identified such people, begin to train them in the software engineering skills needed to build software incrementally and iteratively. The ones I referred in my earlier post. Give them an orientation on the agile value system of collaboration, team work and customer value focus. This may be equivalent to the Shu stage. At the end of this training and orientation, identify now who qualify and who do not qualify to go further.

3. Now only those who qualified and passed the Shu stage, can be put on Agile Projects. This engagement will be for them to experience the Ha stage. Coach them as they do their job if required, to ensure that they now know how to apply their learning into real situations. You could disqualify members at this stage too if you find that they may not be suitable for Agile for one reason or the other.

4. When they successfully deliver value consistently in different project situations, they can be selected, groomed and used as Coaches, where they get a chance to work at the Ri stage with other Agile Teams either in their Ha stage or use them as trainers to train fresh intakes for the Shu stage.

This is how we train Pilots in the Indian Air Force (I am an ex-IAF officer from the Air Defence Stream). And this is how Army trains and maintains a group of Commandoes who during a war can work as soldiers but during a situation like 26/11, can work as commandoes, working towards a given goal, empirically and iteratively in an empowered self-organizing cross-functional team mode, strictly and clearly within a set of value system meant for them, which is different from the army way of process orientation.

Here too please note that out of 100 soldiers in the army, only a few qualify for getting trained as commandos and fewer still qualify to get posted to a commando unit for one term.

This is what I am trying to incorporate into my FScrum hypothesis.

No comments:

Post a Comment