As people entered the Fawcett Center on campus of The Ohio State University for the inaugural Lean Into Agile conference, a wall-sized picture of legendary Buckeye football coach Woody Hayes greeted us. The quote, left, could not have been better foreshadowing for the theme of the day.
Michael Sahota used his opening keynote to break down the Agile Manifesto to a single phrase, Individuals and interactions over processes and tools, then further boiled it down to a single word: PEOPLE. As a former tool administrator who loves using tools to solve problems, hearing the phrase people over process and tools always gives me a bit of anxiety. Still, I listened intently to the Agile community as they presented their case.
There was plenty of talk and consensus on the challenges of Agile. This always led to collaborative discussions about how certain elements of Lean and Agile can be leveraged to deliver better software. What resonated with me, however, was the candor around two themes:
Being Agile versus Doing Agile
Agile is not the goal of an organization. Reducing time to market, delivering high quality software that meets the customers needs–those are goals. Being Agile and Lean is a culture that allows an organization to achieve its goals. They should be used as a framework, rather than a strict methodology, incorporating only the aspects that make sense for your business.
People over Process and Tools
Many stories were told throughout the day about struggles with mandated tools. From my experience in software testing and tool administration, I could definitely relate. And the message was clear: people shouldn’t have to struggle to succeed despite a tool; rather, put your people first and let them drive the processes and tool selection. That last message is one where I can see Tasktop playing a key role for the Agile community. Yes, letting people choose tools that best meet their needs may lead to a larger collection of tools and disparate data. But through proper integration, the data can still synchronize and flow just as it would (or better) than if it were all one big tool suite. Tasktop bridges the gap we connect tools, and more importantly, the people that use them. I think we can all agree with the great Woody Hayes. You win with people. Let’s empower people to use the best tool for the job through integration.