I was watching my son and daughter and their cousins playing games on the weekend and it struck me on how children really operate in an Agile way. The kids were playing monopoly and it was fascinating how they used the general rules and then customized the rules if they could get an agreement from every participant. It was something I don’t seem often with adults. We seem to read the rules and then consider then sacred. I even have seen huge arguments when there is a disagreement on the rules that will be followed. Somehow as we get older, we seem to get less brave in how we play games or work.
I have heard some Agile proponents discuss how everyone needed to absolutely follow Agile practices just like how people absolutely needed to create functional specifications for a waterfall project in the past. Blind faith in any process is not Agile. Agile is understanding the process guidelines and understanding when and how they have been customized to create the most value. Granted that there are some practices that will apply more often like User Stories, Planning Poker, and automated testing. But we do need to be careful in that we don’t fall into the same trap of demanding these practices are always done.
But more fascinating to me was that the kids modified the guidelines in an iterative manner! They played for a while and then based on the success and fairness of the rule, they modified the rules. When my daughter did not have the same amount of properties, they modified the rules. They understood that winning the game was not success, everyone having fun and being involved was. Once again, they only modified the rules when they were able to gain agreement from all players. They played the game in the same manner people suggest Agile project should be done.
So the question is why do adults seem to require strict rules? It seems much of the Scrum methodology was a reaction to create a rigid structure in the Agile space. That methodology found a home as it filled a need for structure. It seems that the lack of rules does make some people uneasy and nervous.
I believe a true team can improvise, innovate, and create because they know risks are taken by the entire team. They also know their team will support those decisions 100%. It does seem to all come down to trust.
Funny. Agile teams have faith and trust in the team, and change the process to fit the client. Non-Agile teams have faith and trust in the process, and change the client to fit the process.