My first exposure to Agile was in 1999 when I came across the website for Extreme Programming (XP). As a fairly new manager I was struggling with teams that just didn’t seem to be able to get the job done. I had previously been an active member of a small development team (6 – 8 developers at any one time) and had never had an issue with getting projects done for the customer. We simply talked to the customer to determine what they needed, then all worked together coding what we needed to get the job done.
But now as manager at a large consulting company, the teams did not seem to be able to replicate that success. While many of the rules of XP were hard to swallow for our customers, we were able to implement two simple rules that made all the difference. 1. No unit of work could be bigger than 40 hours of work; and 2. We instituted a daily stand up meeting to coordinate our efforts.
What a difference those two small practices made! Our projects started getting back on track, and our customers were much happier with our progress. I was forever sold on the value of Agile over Waterfall for software development and never looked back.
After a few years of using XP, I came across Scrum. I began using the Scrum framework with my teams and found that Scrum provided a great framework for taking my teams to the next level, while still applying the development practices from XP that had worked so well. Scrum provides just enough structure to support great development practices, while still giving teams the flexibility to be truly Agile.