Blog / Agile and Angry Birds

Tracey Berman
October 25, 2010

I have recently converted to iphone (‘about time’ I hear you say) and with that comes the many recommendations on apps. It was on a recent road trip with the family after the 100th ‘are we nearly there yet?’ that I succumbed to the pressure of downloading Angry Birds. Needless to say it was a big hit – not only with the children but my husband and I quickly became addicts comparing notes on exploding birds and green pigs.
However, in spite of being competitive, I play very infrequently. I was travelling back from London after a particularly trying day and thought I would ‘treat’ myself to a mindless game of angry birds. Unfortunately my 9 year old has taken every opportunity to use my phone and I opened up the game to find I had rocketed up the levels.
I was useless – truth is, having not actually completed any of the levels myself I didn’t have the skill to play the game at that level.

It was at this very point that it dawned on me…… this is how management teams must feel about being introduced to Agile. When the I.T. team has been working in Agile for years and suddenly management join the club, only to find they are not at the same level as those who have been living and breathing it for years. They must immediately feel like outsiders in their own organisation. Where the I.T. department are on Angry Birds level 10 swopping stories of pigs in helmets and you have only just downloaded the game. What you need is some skills to get you up and running fast!

I recently sat at the Agile Business Conference where they were talking about Agile for management and more importantly, ‘safe’ Agile for management. Introducing skills and systems that allow management to move along the traditional management spectrum to Agile as opposed to leaping into Agile blindly. I am not saying that Agile is some kind of scary place for management to find themselves – on the contrary I am confident that any management team who are mentored in Agile will see the benefits instantly and never look back. It is simply that the thought of plunging into Agile without the safety blanket of traditional management methods might be daunting for some and ultimately be the reason why they never move to Agile. It might always feel like Agile is the domain of the I.T. department. By finding a route to Agile that takes smaller steps, perhaps management in many organisations will give it a try?

Talking to management in terms that they are already familiar with, will make the learning process easier and ultimately quicker than replacing the original rulebook for a new set of rules entirely. The end point will be the same it’s just the path you take that will be different, more enjoyable perhaps than going from download to Level 10 Angry Birds!