Agile and the Art of Motor Cycle Maintenance

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I ride a Moto Guzzi motorcycle, pictured above. I love it. I am hooked. The exhilaration of being at one with the road, the sensory input and the feeling of freedom is the addiction that hooks many a motorcycle enthusiast. As fun as it is, there’s a lot to keep in mind, and more so than in a car, motorcycle riders are constantly assessing immediate needs as they venture on their journey to their destination.

A really interesting example of this is taking a curve.  It almost goes against every bit of instinct you may have, but when entering a curve, the way to handle it is by looking to where you want to be (position  B in the below diagram), or through the curve.  Do that and the bike goes where you want it to go.  But get too focused on a stationary point, or the road and all its immediate obstacles, and you’re asking for trouble (position A).

Image Credits: motorcyclebasics.com

To me Agile is like riding a motorcycle. I am hooked on Agile and its  exhilarating impact on business  As organizations move from acting Agile to actually being Agile, we need to have a focus on our destination, while simultaneously negotiating the curves that come up and the obstacles in our way. It’s a lot to ask, but just as when you become one with your bike, the same goes for when you become Agile.

One thing that can often crash an Agile approach is people being too focused, or distracted, on what immediately pops up in front of them. This can lead them to stop prioritizing or “seeing through the curve,” if you will. You’ve got your “final” deliverable, and along the way you have your sprints identified and your tasks prioritized.  But often an unexpected project creates an obstacle around which you have to maneuver.

I won’t torture the motorcycle reference too much, but it would be liking entering the curve, not looking through it and as a result crashing into an object because you didn’t see it, instead of evading it because you’re looking at everything as they affect the ride. You’ve got to be able to in real time  understand if the “ask” of you fits in with that immediate part of your journey, or whether it’s something you can just drive through.

I’m lucky to work with some internationally recognized experts in Agile here at Persistent Systems. You can find some of their writing on Agile here and here. But even for us, just like in riding a motorcycle and “learning” to handle a curve, it takes practice and discipline to move from acting Agile to actually being Agile. But it’s something you have to do in order to avoid the crash and to reach your destination!

So what do you think?

Image Credits: motorcycleridernews.com

Ken Montgomery is VP of Corporate Communications at Persistent Systems who may or may not have an unhealthy obsession with Agile, Motorcycles and Metaphors.

Image Credits: Tushar Kad

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