Agile 2009 – Experience Report from Yahoo

I attended the Agile @ Yahoo: Experiences from the Trenches presentation this morning, and so far it has actually been one of my most enlightening and enjoyable experiences so far. The Yahoo experiences was to go through there pre-agile, agile adoption and agile maturity stages and to let people know some of the pain and success points they endured.

I am not going to focus much on the pre-agile pain points as I believe those are very similar to most waterfall environments, and have been heavily talked about it many agile sessions, books and trainings.

First I want to talk about some of the Risks that they experienced and needed to be overcome to improve the Agile transition and practice.

  • External Teams outside of the Agile practice
    • This can include other parts of the company in which one most rely/interact with that does not follow or believe in the agile implementations that your team my be following. This can cause delays, miscommunication and lack of productivity.
    • UI Design teams need to be part of the Agile practice as UI design is critical to the iteration cycle of release.
  • Team Inter-dependency.
    • In large organizations many people rely on deliverables of other teams to move forward in their iterations. The communication and planning’s between these teams need to be aligned to make sure the goals are the same, or they need to be able to be built modular enough to be able to deliver independent of the other teams progress.
  • Lack of Coaches
    • Without coaches its hard to introduce teams to successful practices and help people learn the positive aspects of agile.
    • Coaches can help communicate and begin dialogue with the non adopters to find where the fear lies in change.
  • Fragmentation
    • No centralized successful scrum practices. If people are not communicating what makes them successful how can anyone learn to succeed.
    • Need to educate non adopters, and if not possible get rid of them. Having the team not believe in the process will always keep them from achieving true success in Agile.
  • “Agile done wrong is worse then No Agile”
    • Scrummerfall – bad or mix mashed agile practices are usually more damaging than the old ways
  • Over reliance on Tools
    • The tools used to implement agile are only as strong as the users understanding to use them.
    • Don’t rely on a tool to solve your problems, rely on the people.


Now some of the things that we want to do to make Agile “Stick”

  • Trust
    • Trust within the organization that everyone is backing the change and the practices will allow for people to do what needs to be done without fear of failure.
  • Roles
    • Education on the roles in agile and how to properly work that role will contribute to the success of the people in them.
  • Team “Field Trip”
    • Team members need to move around to other team(preferably successful teams) and absorb different patterns and practices that are successful so they can implement them on their own.
  • Internal Agile Community
    • Sharing ideas is never negative. An internal community dedicated to the improvement of practices and education will give people rich experiences on how to manage Agile on a day to day basis.
  • Agile Principles. Education.
    • Many people don’t truly understand the principles and need to be educated and talked to about their benefits. This is a role of an Agile Coach. If you understand why we do it, you will be more inclined to do it right.

This was a highly interesting 45 minute session, and I will follow up some more once I read the white paper they submitted.


One thought on “Agile 2009 – Experience Report from Yahoo

  1. […] can read Chris’s entire thoughts on the presentation here  I think he really summed up the points […]

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