Tuesday, November 24, 2015

This blog & Whats next? after Agile?

This blog has been noticeably quieter than usual over the last couple of months, and whats more, when I have posted something up its often been of the “this is what I’m doing” type rather than the “here’s something to think about” type post. Well…

In the last few months I’ve been putting my energy into other mediums, hence A little book of requirements and user stories and the managing beyond projects workshop I’ve mentioned before - the dates for the workshop has moved back to January by the way.

The big news this week is that I am serialising my #NoProjects presentation as mini-videos on YouTube. Various conference videos are already online but this is a series of short videos, check out the Managing without Projects playlist. (There are 7 episodes so far, more coming soon.)

I also added a new newsletter earlier this month and I expect this will in future carry material which would have been in this blog otherwise. So if you want the latest, freshest stuff I suggest you subscribe to the newsletter.

And here is the piece that the newsletter carried at the start of this month….

What's next? - after Agile?

As this is the first of my new, occasional, newsletter it seems a great chance to look to the future. So lets ask that question that comes up regularly:

"What comes after Agile?"

Sometimes only asked rhetorically by agilistas to prove they have the inside track on what is really happening!

I had a go at answering it myself a few years ago with a presentation entitled "The future of Agile". To cut a-long-story-short, I thought the next thing would be Lean. Six and a bit years on I think I was right but perhaps not in the way I thought it might be. I saw Lean displacing Agile as the predominant approach to software development, or at least the buzzword. Well it hasn't, Agile is still the buzzword it was.

But Lean has permeated more and more thinking on Agile. If you look at Agile almost every idea can be traced - in some cases literally in other case philosophically to Lean thinking. Anyone who goes a bit deeper into Agile quickly runs across the Lean roots. Over time we've seen more and more Lean ideas adopted under the Agile umbrella.

My own Xanpan book is an example of that: hard core XP agile infused with Lean Kanban thinking.

Talking of Kanban.... six years Kanban was still new, and it seemed for a while that the Kanban community didn't want to be part of the Agile community. They wanted to be seen as Lean. (One supposes they thought Lean was superior, or at least more marketable.) That seems to have changed too, I now hear expressions like "Kanban is an alternative path to Agile." I feel there is a broader understanding that while Kanban is different to Scrum it is not so different that it isn't part of the Agile movement.

(Perhaps the greatest contribution the Kanban insurrection made has been breaking the Scrum hegemony. Scrum is still often used as a common synonym for Agile but it is no longer seen as the only player. Because of Kanban people are more aware of differences.)

Back to my original question.

When people ask "what is next?"I usually to sense there is something else they are not saying, perhaps what they are saying is: "Agile destroyed the waterfall, what is coming along to destroy Agile?" - after all this is the tech industry were new technologies come along regularly. Cynically I sometimes wonder if these people are thinking "Maybe I can ignore Agile and get with the next thing" or even "Agile is a fad, give it a few months and the wheel will turn, we'll be back to waterfall."

Notwithstanding cynicism, it is wrong to think something will come along and disrupt or destroy Agile, the way Agile did Waterfall. Many more innovations build on what has gone before than destroy what has gone before. The question "What comes after Agile?" is better asked "How will Agile evolve to next?"

That is an easier question to answer because the future is here: *Continuous Delivery, Mob Programming and No Projects*. All three build on Agile and takes it to a higher level

Continuous delivery: Teams delivering not just at the end of the iteration but all the way through it. In some cases many times a day or even many times an hour.

Unfortunately for those people who were hoping to leapfrog Agile and get with the next big thing the first step to doing Continuous Delivery is doing Agile well. If your team can't release a product update at least every two weeks then you aren't even at the start of Continuous Delivery.

The path to the continuous delivery thing lies through Agile.

Then there is Agile's cutting edge, the new ideas which will build on Agile and take it further.

On the technical side mob programming and BDD (behaviour driven development) continue to build.

On the process and organization side "#NoEstimates" continues to stir up controversy although I fear it does as much damage as it good.

And of course there is #NoProjects which I am closely associated with.

My thinking on #NoProjects continues to develop and it continues to be a popular conference talk. Now I want to try something different. Next month I intend to run a one day workshop on the subject to help teams explore how they may get away from project thinking. More details and how to book on EventBrite.