Agile: why should software developers have all the fun?

Agile is the ultimate bureaucracy buster -- and has already been proven in the software space. Time to spread the gospel.

Agile shouldn't be just about software development. It should apply to everything an organization produces. HR, finance and production live in monolithic silos with calcified processes. It's time for software people to spread the agile gospel to other parts of the enterprise. 

Buildings-New Rules cropped 2New York Nov 2013 cropped 2 photo by Joe McKendrick
Photo: Joe McKendrick

That's the word from Jeff Gothelf, who says agile needs to be part of HR, finance, and everywhere else. In a recent article at Harvard Business Review, he observes that the goal of agile is continuous delivery -- and there's no reason why this should only apply to software.

Gothelf, author of Lean UX: Applying Lean Principles to Improve User Experience, picks out some examples of monoliths within organizations that have been long strapped down by hierarchical, calcified thinking -- HR, finance and production for starters. 

Agile is the ultimate bureaucracy buster -- and it's already been proven in the software space. One only need to take the values and principles outlined in the Agile Manifesto, substitute the word "software" with "product," and it becomes very clear that agile is a philosophy, a practice, that can benefit the entire business. Consider these values:

  • Individuals and interactions over processes and tools
  • Working [products] over comprehensive documentation
  • Customer collaboration over contract negotiation
  • Responding to change over following a plan

This is one of the areas where IT managers and professionals can teach their enterprises to improve their culture to meet the needs of today's businesses. In HR, for example, recruiters will "tick of all the boxes" when selecting new job candidates. Instead, "HR teams need to start hiring for creativity, collaboration and curiosity," requiring new hiring practices and rethinking the entire process. Don't "waterfall" decisions to the rest of the organization, work with business customers to determine what kind of talent they need to move things forward.

There's a lot software developers can teach their counterparts across the rest of their organizations.