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The Big Secret

The Big Secret

If you are an infrastructure professional like myself, your developer colleagues have been keeping a secret from you. I have worked with software development professionals for my entire career. I actually thought some of them were my friends even though we often found ourselves at the opposite side of the table when it came to IT security, access to production systems, and application performance. You know what I am talking about. It can’t be the inefficient coding –  it has to be the lack of memory, CPU, or disk space! I have heard it mentioned on occasion but when I asked about what it meant, they told me it was a software development thing and I wouldn’t understand. So I let it go for a number of years because I trusted them. I am finding out now that my trust was misplaced. I was wrong. I was so wrong!

ag·ile

1: marked by a ready ability to move with quick and easy grace
<an agile dancer>

Sounds great doesn’t it. Why can’t I do agile? Why are software developers the only ones who get the ability to “move with quick and easy grace”? Why can’t infrastructure teams be agile. Heck, why can’t businesses be agile?

So I figured the only way to get agile was to create relationships with developers so that I could learn more about it. But the answer was always the same. It is a software engineering methodology, you can’t implement agile for infrastructure teams.

But somewhere along the line I figured out what the real issue was. Sure, developers had some iterative processes, backlogs, and stories.  But they still thought of it as a software development methodology and not a way of operating a business. Agile is a mindset. And if agile is a mindset than why can’t we implement agile in any business or IT situation. The answer is “You Can”. The key is that you must “Become” agile. You can’t just “Implement” it. Agile is easy to implement but harder to become.

The Agile Manifesto
Individuals and interactions over processes and tools
Working software over comprehensive documentation
Customer collaboration over contract negotiation
Responding to change over following a plan

Consider how you can work agile methods into other areas of IT and the business since it really is mindset that can be applied in a variety of situations and processes.

  • Smaller more manageable project chunks
  • Pair team members from various areas of the business
  • Daily or weekly checkpoints. Ask what went well and what needs improvement
  • Start with the most challenging piece of work
  • Make sure the primary stakeholders are very involved
  • Involve agile facilitators

As more and more companies embrace agile software development, it will be interesting to see how they apply those same principles to other areas of the business. The world has seen enough cumbersome processes – it is time to get efficient and innovative in all areas of the business in order to compete in a world that is changing very quickly. Agile may be your ticket to “move with quick and easy grace”!

About Michael Weaver

Mike is CIO at DBM Global and startup enthusiast. DBM's portfolio of companies include Schuff Steel, PDC, BDS VirCon and Aitken Manufacturing.

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