Recently, I had some time to catch up with old (some new) friends over coffee and the topic of Agile came up (again). Its is always so inspiring to be exchanging ideas with others and drawing reference from different perspectives. So after listening and debating on this topic, here’s what I think of Agile:
1. Agile is NOT the Miracle Pill (And for the record, neither is Design Thinking)
Agile is such an overused word that it has become a misnomer as the silver bullet fix for anything that’s wrong with an organization,. “Adopt Agile for faster speed to market”, “We need to be agile and do things in a different way”.. Really?
Agile, like all other things, has it pros and cons. Like what they say about loving someone, you have to love in entirety. The good, the bad and everything else in between. A lot of companies failed to transform not because they don’t know agile (well, partly could be that), but failing to cultivate the appetite for its flaws. That means everyone within the company (Board of Directors included) has to be onboard, and not only limited to the IS or Product teams. Because Agile is not just about the methodologies or having a Devops setup, it impacts the entire end to end value chain of the organization. And every function within the value chain has to change their existing way of doing things. As the saying goes, it takes a village.
2. Agile is not a shortcut
Being agile doesn’t mean cutting corners. It is using a different perspective and focus at approaching the same set of challenges. So while it may help companies adapt faster, accelerating their speed to market, it doesn’t mean the work is necessarily any lesser. In fact, the intensity and velocity can be much more rigorous, and companies sometimes forget to cater the resources and time for the demands of Agile.
The analogy that I can draw from is instead of baking one big cake and slicing it up for serving, what agile does is serve up multiple small slices of cakes, and along the way, make enhancements in each bake.
3. It doesn’t really matter
I might be called out for blasphemy but at the end of the day, it doesn’t really matter what methodology the company is using. The fundamentals has to be in place first – a working product / service that brings value to customers; it is simple to find, buy, use, communicate and get support from, with sustained iterations for enhancements for good measure. Agile happens to be a good candidate because of its customer centricity, not because it is the latest buzzword.
Grew up in Singapore, stood on the cusp of the internet revolution and surfed it (literally). My “cloud” was made up of FTP servers, my “WiFi” were RJ-45 cables that ran across the walls in trunking that my dad hand-laid, and I coded in Turbo Pascal (if you know them, you’re probably as old as I am, or older). 🙂
I’m fascinated by all things digital and still bear nostalgia towards childhood gadgets. My first Pentium-I PC that ran on Windows’98, the comforting sound of the 56K modem, the fun I had with the Nintendo PopEye Handheld, the fights with my siblings over who got to use the land line, and my original Nokia 3310 that’s still sitting somewhere in my mom’s house. Not to mention the grande dames of the living room – the television sets that I grew up watching.
The site name originated from my mother. Every time she wanted to tell me something that I may not like, she’ll always start with “Just general talk…”. From her general talks I’ve learned, reflected, and rebutted (a lot). Caused her (major) heartaches along the way, and still inflicting some (minor ones) on a regular basis.
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