Future Directions for Agile Management

Agile management (agile software development specifically) is something that makes a big difference in my work life. David Anderson consistently provides great ideas on agile management and he does so again in this 90 minute presentation on the future directions for agile. As I learned about agile software development, what I saw was a great implementation of management improvement practices focused on software development that was very compatible with Deming’s management philosophy and lean thinking practices. The Agile manifesto:

Individuals and interactions over processes and tools
Working software over comprehensive documentation
Customer collaboration over contract negotiation
Responding to change over following a plan

The first line can seem to be at odds, but I think in practice it is not – though I admit it may seem that way based on the importance placed on process by Deming (I think you have to read on agile to understand why this is the case). For my use of agile software develop, a highlight of the most important ideas is:

  • Deliver working systems quickly (with limited features, add features based on user needs) – [management improvement practice: PDSA, pilot ideas on a small scale, go to the gemba (don’t sit in conference rooms talking about what might be an issue for the computer application you want to see in 6 months, create working systems and then continually improve it)]
  • Build systems that cope well with uncertainty and allow for constant continuous improvement of processes (with IT systems that can adjust as needed to changing business conditions and desires) – [continual improvement – what is good enough today is not good enough next year]

Important concepts addressed by agile management: highly collaborative, risk tolerance, systems thinking, customer interaction, craftsmanship ethic [joy in work], eliminate waste. Great quote from the webcast:

What we know about knowledge work, and software engineering, is that coordination cost grow non-linearly with batch size. We’ve known this since Greg Brooks published the Mythical Man Month, probably longer than that. So that is a key difference with manufacturing, coordination costs do not grow with batch size in manufacturing.

Related: Kanban In Software EngineeringManagement Science for Software EngineeringImproving Communicationwebcast of David Anderson talking about applying Agile and Deming’s ideas at MicrosoftWhat is Agile Software Development?