A common reason people give for undergoing an agile transformation is that their projects will “go faster.” When most people think of faster they think of getting all the work done sooner. And they are not wrong to think that way. A recent industry survey [PDF] and other sources point to increased productivity as one of the benefits of agile practices. I do not dispute this but I’d like to look at faster from a different perspective. Agile practices pave the road, so to speak. It doesn’t matter how fast your car can go if you are driving on a dirt road.
Magical Agile Transformations?
In this discussion I will focus on Scrum as the framework the team has chosen in order to become agile. Assume a team of good people is formed, trained in Scrum and starts Sprint 1. Suddenly the programmers can write code faster? Or the product owner can define features faster and tests are written and run faster? No, there is no magic. The reality is that most of the individuals on the team are just as fast at their usual tasks as they were before Scrum. Each individual, in fact, is probably not any faster at their specialized skill even after several sprints.
So, given that the individuals on the team are not actually faster, what is happening to make productivity go up? Or does it only look like productivity is up? [Read more...]