I sat in on an iteration review this week and came away feeling great about the team, the process and the strategic direction we taking our products. Reflecting on the meeting I asked myself what was the magic in the meeting? The strategic direction of the product had been hashed out months ago in a grueling multi day session, almost all of the members of the development team that were present for the review have been with the company since it’s inception back in 2001 and the meeting covered what it was billed to cover – there was no “ oh by the way we got this new cool feature into this iteration.”
The magic of the meeting was in what I will call “The Unspoken Agile Advantage.” We are working towards our next major product release with 2 week iterations. We are coming up on the end of an iteration and the team got together to review a demo of a very significant new feature. I sat in unannounced to see our progress first hand. The demo was solid and it was one of those good news – no surprise meetings.
So what is this magic I keep referring to? The chemistry of the team’s interaction. In short order, major new functionality was designed and brought to life. The team could see the results with very fast turnaround – 2 weeks, while it was still fresh in their minds. The Agile process lends itself perfectly to “very cool, hey can we do this now” or what about changing that adjacent part of the screen to better expose these capabilities….and on and on.” The magic was in the rapid review, the visual context of the new functionality in relation to the rest of the product and the dynamic interaction of cause and effect of the new capabilities – all centered around making the overall user experience even better than “the plans on paper.”
I am sure every Agile Evangelist would look at me and say duh…yeah that is what Agile is all about. As a CEO it is one thing to hear we are on track with the new release and be shown multi-colored spreadsheet or dashboards, but it is worth its weight in gold to actually see the progress maturing and the ensuing feeding frenzy of ideas amongst the development management and team members in quick iteration bursts.