Walking out of the Certified Agile Tester examination straight back into a waterfall world, shattered yet full of knowledge, we sat in the nearby pub and one question crossed our minds: when would we use all this new found agile knowledge? There would need to be a top down emphasis on becoming agile, as well as buy in from our development partners. It seemed a million miles away…

It was then that it struck us; the agile methodology is as much a mind-set and characteristic change as much as a stringent change of methodology. The emphasis of which being on soft skills, trust and the appreciation of people. Last time I checked, aspects of character didn’t need a formal sign off to implement.

Going home that evening (granted after a few beers) it was like being in an agile world. Chores were reflected as user stories; each an element in imaginary task board, awarded user story points and prioritised on the addition of value. Friday dinner sitting around the table was the weekly retrospective, talking to my parents and sibling about what went well, what didn’t go so well, what would you do differently next time? Ignoring the funny looks, I went to bed content, ready to head back to the office on Monday morning and begin creating an agile environment, if not in structure but in actions.

Monday morning arrived; with a spring in my step I entered the office ready to unleash my agile actions. However, in the changing of character and human actions was much easier and realistic in theory than the reality. Yes I was part of a team, but not a team in an agile sense of the word, consisting of developer, testers, developers BA and product owners. The actuality was that I was returning to my testing compatriots ready to test a piece of software and to find and send defects over the proverbial fence, only for the development compatriots to try and throw them back at us! (Or playing defect tennis as I like to call it)

George Bernard Shaw once famously said “Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.” Would being more agile actually mean progress?  Would it ever be an acceptable methodology for the people stuck in their ways? Was it too much of a drastic change? These questions bugged me.

Contemplating in more detail, I realised that the waterfall and agile approaches were like chalk and cheese and there had to be a happy middle or hybrid which could be utilised as an introduction whilst the team got used to more drastic agile principles. Surely the project could dip their toes into the agile world without upsetting the apple cart.

The concept of a being hybrid was something that provided considerable food for thought. We could arrange daily stand up meetings between testers and developers and encourage more communication, have weekly retrospectives to discuss our thoughts, or even get up and discuss defects face to face (shock, horror!) On the surface these are all normal agile procedures but they are “bite sized” and easily introduced within a waterfall approach.

These small introductions would begin to change the ‘you and them’ mentality, crossing the first hurdle of agile implementation. More and more agile actions could then be incrementally introduced from release to release as the team got into a norming phase. This incremental approach could potentially eventually lead to full agile delivery!

I personally believe that, once changed, human actions and characteristics are the most powerful catalyst to fundamental progress. Even though the full agile implementation would still be a million miles away, at least some stepping stones could be put into place to works towards it.

Only time will tell if the Software Delivery world runs with agile for the long term but what will be equally interesting is to see if the concept of being more hybrid is something that also takes off in parallel…


Posted in: Agile, communication, Developers, Human Interaction Testing, Innovation, Sogeti Studio, Technology Outlook, waterfall      
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