OK, lets assume that like in the article “Mature Agility – Where Are Your Agile Riffs?” that you have a working agile process.
Why is there still “analysis paralysis”, requirements trashing and treadmill effects in your supposedly smooth agile projects? Why is everyone thinking inside the box of their usual pet technology?
Is everyone so busy running in sprints that they can’t stop to get the bicycle off their back and get on wheels instead?
Even worse: Maybe there isn’t any bicycle on their back.
Many companies hold innovation contests. But that is just cashing checks from the bank. What do they do to enable people to be innovative ?
Well some companies allow their staff to play with technology: XP2012 did a workshop with “Sveriges Ingenjörer” (The Swedish Association of Graduate Engineers) a while ago on Agile and Tech Play. One speaker, Ulf Månsson, talked about how his employer sponsored “Nerd Lunches” where engineers got a free lunch and it was OK to learn, play, brainstorm and innovate around a theme. The only rule: The theme should NOT be selected on business value. Sometimes they played with jumping Lego pieces. Why did the employer sponsor this? Well: Often enough, sometime after a nerd lunch with a theme, that had no business value at the time, people got inspired to play a little bit more with something on their own time. And even later some client showed up with a request for some new unexpected project where some nerd lunch theme would solve a problem. The guys with nerd lunches had already played with some stuff and knew how to do it. All the competitors could only offer billable working hours investigating possible solutions. Simply put: The company who sponsored nerd lunches, ie allowed people to be curious and play in a timebox with stuff outside the current business focus, for their engineers won more bids than their competitors.
Another speaker talked about exciting stuff like Makerbot, RepRap and other do-it-yourself 3D-printers and stuff.
Someone gave a talk on Arduino and how that makes hardware and embedded software accessible to people with product that usually don’t do either electronics or software design.
At XP2012 we like to hear stories about how you and people you know put ideas and solutionas up your sleeve to be able to fulfill the promise of Agile!