Agile Chandigarh WorkShop :Is CMMi Agile?

28 May, 2008
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Saturday 17/05/08: Six hours of journey after starting early (very early) in the morning is not that awful when you are looking forward to attend some kind of a “First….”.This adds some extra enthusiasm!! 🙂
We were three, Saket and Rupal being the other two. Apart from participating we were also embodied the task to propagate Xebia’s learnings and experiences as one of the front-runners to imbibe Agile.
A small, but an all charged up audience of some 25 odd people were just enough for that (even smaller) Conference Room at CYP Asia Center hosting the “First” Agile Workshop in Chandigarh. Developers, project managers and even some entrepreneurs formed the lot. Its amazing how Agile is stirring up everyone and was good to see an all inquisitive bunch of people.
“Embrace Uncertainty….”, with this punch line Naresh (representing ASCI) launched his presentation and cruised along talking about the problems with the orthodox Software Engineering. He backed his statements with some famous examples where traditionally managed projects failed completely (NASA’s Safeguard). He moved on by discussing the Lean Thinking and the Toyota’s Way to eliminate waste and building Quality into the process. Finally the audience was introduced to Agile, its values and principles and how it can be helpful to maximize productivity. He ended with a note that it may seem easy but it requires courage, need for more discipline, greater emphasis on testing, constant business involvement and last but not the least an open mind to go Agile.
During the breaks we caught up with the fellow attendees to get their insights, views and apprehensions. Some practice Agile within their projects but not at the organization level. Others plan to do so in their future assignments. They were quite keen to know how we practice Agile at Xebia? Either we do scrum or XP? Is it feasible ? Who interacts with the client? Stand-ups?…and a lot more.
The Second presentation was by Vikrama (key initiator for the workshop in Chandigarh).The first presentation had left audience with high expectations and queries so it was time for some reality check. Nothing better then his presentation on “Common Myths about Agile” would have come to the rescue. One key note which he mentioned was that Agile does not work with CMMi: a myth. He presented us with some interesting slides which showed that CMMi inherently supports Agile! Now that can start off a debate! But what was obvious from his analysis was that CMMi is not being followed in the right spirit. One myth about CMMi is that to get audited for CMMi you do need to come up with a lot of “mandatory” artifacts/documents of some specific standards and template. Which is but not true!! Well this can be a topic of research. Overall his presentations answered a lot many questions and helped the audience to understand that yes, Agile is not a Silver bullet!

The final presentation was by Rajesh. He has a rich experience in Human Resource Management. “People Factor: Maximize People Potential”, as the name suggests was focused around creating motivated and highly efficient teams. As Agile talks about empowering teams with more decision making and responsibilities(self organizing teams) the role of a manager needs to be redefined. Rajesh talked about the psychological aspects behind how individuals behave and the key factors that drive them to be motivated which is essential for an agile team. It is where the new role of a manager evolves using the “Psychological underpinnings of people management”. He carried out a few simple tricks involving the audience to bring home his points. It was fun.
It was a good experience which helped me to reinforce my understanding of Agile as being shaped up in the last couple of months. But it also stirred up some questions, that were debated in the Workshop but still require some satisfactory conditioning.
Some of the questions that surfaced were:
How do we go Agile in Large Projects/Large Teams? Any Case Study?
Agile for Product Development Companies? Do they follow a different approach?
Apart from learn and adapt approach is there any or should we have different models for incorporating Agile for different types of Project(Small/Large/Product/Services)?
I believe that a lot many questions will find answers with time as more and more projects start adopting Agile.


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