Agile software development is a fast and collaborative approach to building new products. Understand how it works, some successful case studies and how you can use it.
Here’s a transcript from the show.
Hello and welcome to the butter map skills podcast. I’m Mike Parsons the CEO of Qualitance. And I’m a little excited today because we’re starting a whole new series. We’re going to dive into the world of agile software development. So we’ve got like a 10 part series coming up for you. Where we’re going to explore the entire universe of agile and break it down into some super handy, practical tips that you can use in your job.
And, uh, I hope you enjoyed the design thinking series that we’ve just completed. Um, along with design thinking, agile software development is. So, so damn him. I, I really, I cannot overstate the dramatic change it’s made for me in helping build brand new products. And you know, the reason why agile matters, the reason why we should be thinking about it, talking about it is agile is the perfect response to that.
The old approach to building software and products, which is called a waterfall. It was slow, bureaucratic, and completely non-adaptive. I, it just did the plan, whatever we agreed. In fact, agile would hold software projects. Ha but you would literally make sense the requirements at the beginning of a project and you wouldn’t.
Change those. And what was crazy about the waterfall is you would only really embrace a user testing just before you launched or just after you launched. And the great news about agile. It turns a lot of things upon its head. Um, but what it does is it brings testing with users into the heart of every few weeks.
So this means that you can get more, uh, focus on, um, I product that actually works by being customer focus, the products going to be higher quality. And by being in there more of continuous delivery, uh, mode, if you will, you’re going to be able to get way more engagement from the team. Engagement from users.
And I think it’s far more than that. Just a way of building software. I think it’s a way of organizing companies, but I’m going to tell y’all a lot more about that over the course, the coming weeks. So make sure that you, if you’re going to enjoy this series, make sure that you stay tuned for the entire 10 plus episodes of our agile software development series.
So I K I’ve been talking up a pretty big game on agile, and you’ll be wondering to yourself, but what exactly is it? Well, let’s set the context for agile software development and moreover agile ways of working. And I want you to think of agile as a set of principles. That help teams build products at speed and it’s super nimble and iterative.
Okay. So it’s a set of principles. Now, this is really simple because what we’ll discover later is sometimes people get mixed up and think agile is a myth technology. It’s actually a set of principles. There are some great agile methodologies, and we definitely going to talk about those as well, but at the heart.
I want you to imagine this is about small teams going super fast and probably speaking, you just get out of their way. You give them empowerment, you give them a clear vision to hit and let them go for it. So let’s talk a little bit about where. Agile hails from like all good things. It didn’t come out of a void.
Um, in fact, it builds a lot upon if you want to go really back into management theory, it goes back to some of Peter Drucker’s very famous thinking about the art of maximizing, the amount of work that is actually not done. So this minimalist idea of only building things that work only focus on core value for your user and for the business.
This goes. Back decades. Um, and at the real Genesis of management theory and management strategy in the postwar era now moving on from that, I think one of the most, um, Important examples of the early, early, early part of not only agile, but I would also say, uh, lean methodology is the Toyota production system house.
Now, this Toyota production system was really at the heart of the house. You know, Japanese auto manufacturing leptons of the scene in the fifties, sixties, and seventies, and really challenged the incumbent traditional manufacturers out of Detroit USA. And they had a couple of crazy ideas. They focused on really shortening the time to market, really focusing on continuous nature of manufacturing and, uh, it really standardized a whole, all new way of working.
You may have heard of just in time. Manufacturing that went on to inspire, uh, companies such as Dell as well. And so it really was something that Toyota embraced in the early fifties. And not only did that really establish the value of working in an agile way. And it also inspired a lot of lean thinking, which we will do a separate master class on a cause that’s jam-packed with goodies as well.
Um, so just kind of wrapping up some of the backgrounds. We’ve got Drucker and Toyota, some real cornerstones of agile, but actually, a whole bunch of guys got together. Uh, and this was where we saw, um, the transition from being a manufacturing or management theory and applying agile into the software. So February 2001, there is a ski resort in Utah called the Snowbird ski resort.
And basically, um, A bunch of dudes got together and came up with this idea of an agile manifesto. And this is really inspired by the principles and values of agile. And these are the kind of three pillars of, of the history and the context of agile Drucker Toyota. And this manifesto, we can plot everything that we do today back.
To, uh, these three inspiring these three driving factors to create modern, agile software development. And I just, for a moment, we’d love to get. Specific in talking about what agile is and I’m going to is a form of an agile, agile method called scrum to describe it. And we’re going to keep coming back to it time and time again.
And we’re going to break down the different roles and practices and tools. So don’t worry. Everything’s ahead of you here on the bottom up skills podcast now. We’re thinking about agile and I want to use this scrum analogy. And the best way I can describe it is every couple of weeks, a small team do a sprint.
This is a sprint of work. They’re largely autonomous. They work from a thing called a backlog. It’s a list of tasks and items to a list of, to do’s if you will. And they’re driven by. A scrum master who runs the rhythm and the teamwork with this idea of having daily scrums. And at the end of the sprint, they have a retrospective and a review.
And the person that’s really at the highest, the process of the product is the product owner. There were lots of other roles as well, but. We’ll get into those, but this is a, uh, a rhythm, a cadence that you get into and you might on a project have six, 12, 24 sprints, depending on the size of the product that you’re going to build.
And, um, what you do is instead of with waterfall, having these enormous timelines, That lead to products that are way late and way wrong. What you do is you try and make every sprint self-contained. So there’s a body of work that gets reviewed and checked. So you can, it really makes it easier to stay on track.
And unlike with waterfall, it’s, it’s much harder to get off track. If you use this. Agile software development approach. Now what’s really interesting is agile is becoming something much desired, not only in sort of high tech, uh, startups or, um, software companies, but it’s actually going way beyond the sector into business, more largely speaking, but here’s the crazy thing in a benchmark study that Deloitte and McKinsey did together in 2019, they found.
But when they talked to senior executives across a whole range of companies, they found that over 90% of them said that the most important characteristic of their business was to be agile. But those same executives said, and this is, this is the kicker that. Less than 10% of them could actually acknowledge that their company was in fact, highly agile.
So everyone wants to be it, but few can do it. And this is something that I hope to address, to show you how to break down agile and how your organization can do some simple things to be more nimble, more iterative, and to deliver better product now. I want to give you a little bit of money analogy, something that you might recognize.
And I want to go back to one of the most inspiring products, uh, that was ever built. And it was the first-ever fighter jet that was built by Lockheed Martin. And they built the first fighter jet in just 143 days using this idea of creating a skunkworks and autonomous small team that were highly focused.
On building the product for me, as I reflect on all the different agile projects that I’ve done, I can’t tell you how much skunks skunkworks is really a metaphor and an analogy. All of agile. So if you’re really interested in that, you can, there’s a lot of great films and documentaries. So just jump onto YouTube and have a look at how Lockheed Martin built the first fighter jet.
This will give you a really clear example of what it really takes. Um, another example would be the Manhattan project, another, uh, classic wartime effort, uh, to do something amazing. So if we just jump now into the modern age, um, there’s lots and lots of examples. I mean, we mentioned Toyota back in the fifties.
Well, I tell you what, today. There is no better example of agile than Tesla. Uh, you know, Tesla are so nimble and adaptive to their environment that, uh, if you take the model less, for example, They make up to 20 engineering changes a week to improve both production and the performance of the car. Now, I would challenge you to go across the road to Detroit and find any of the manufacturing of other automobiles, where they are making 20 changes a week.
Traditionally, the production line. And all of the factory setup, the toolset that’s put in place for a car stays fixed sometimes for up to a year in traditional automotive manufacturing or actually Ilan. He just does it much faster. He’s making up to 20 changes a week. Another completely different, uh, example, uh, was, uh, hand sanitizer.
Uh, if you look at what union labour did, they changed their production rate of hand sanitizer from overseas from 700,000 items a month, approximately to over 100 million per month is an enormous production increase. And they attributed that to wreck. To agile. So this is what can be done if we use agile.
And I want you to have this in your mind cause we’re gonna break it all down. Um, but I want to remind you what we’re fighting for here. The reason why we think that agile software development really matters. Okay. Last thought in just kind of introducing the world of agile. Agile is fantastic when you’re building your product.
Can be analogue can be digital, let’s focus on software. So the build a period of your product. It’s, it’s absolutely pivotal. It can be surrounded by beforehand. You can get into, um, maybe using some design thinking for some prototyping, uh, maybe some design thinking for generating insights for your product.
And when you want to launch a product, that’s when you turn to other practices like growth marketing. So this is the company that agile capes, for example, But what’s so special about agile is it’s not only a way to organize a team to build software. What I will argue is it’s a way to build teams for pretty much anything.
And in fact, what we’re starting to see is whole reorganizations of companies to become agile at the core, which is super exciting. All right. Well, they haven’t, this is an introduction to the world of agile software development. I hope this helps you understand a bit more about what we’re dealing with.
So some of the success cases, and I hope that this, it leaves you absolutely fired up and at the ready to start doing some more agile. If you do want to go really deep into this, we have a masterclass on bottom up, dada, completely free. Jump in there. Take the master class, download the slides. It will be a fantastic way for you to adopt a more nimble, more intuitive way of working.
All right. I hope you’ve enjoyed this introduction to agile. There’s plenty more to come. I’m here on the bottom up skills podcast. That’s a wrap.