How much benefit does ‘Agile’​ provide?

“How much is it providing me exactly?” This question was asked by a CEO to a group of Agile Coaches and Scrum Masters that I was part of not long ago. It struck a cord with me but fortunately I managed to stop myself from giving him a quick answer to a different question. An answer that many of us are quick to give. Not only do we believe it to be true but we have seen and made it happen time and again. ‘What’ is it able to give us? Well, who does not want frequent and continuous deliveries with high business value. Teams that are end to end capable, responsible, improving, focused on well crafted Sprint Goals and in close collaboration with stakeholders and customers. Fortunately it has become an increasingly big part of our worldwide product building DNA and I do not even care if we call it ‘Agile’. We can call it whatever you think these beneficial things mean. From ‘common sense’ to ‘being adaptive’ to plain ‘how would you approach it if it was your own stable?’.

No this question had nothing to do with ‘What’ it would deliver him. He knew quite well otherwise we would not have been given the chance to change things so rapidly. This question is I believe hard to answer properly in the way I afterwards understood he meant it. He meant having all those people creating that specific product twice but at the exact same time: one way done ‘Agile’ and the other ‘how it used to be done’. Having ‘the right measured data’ would then answer his question but I have yet to see something like this happen. Within the Quantum realm perhaps. There is however a next best thing: when you transition from the ‘the way it used to be done’ towards ‘let us try this now’, immediately start collecting data (as in ‘the right measured data’ mentioned above). I know not all of us will get these kind of questions but I think it is beneficial to at least have given it some thought.

Deployments per Sprint. Bug Slippage. Team, User and Stakeholder Happiness, etc. etc. I bet most of us are aware of quite some useful metrics relating to all those awesome teams we have come across, not to mention the more usual suspects like Velocity. If you are able to show the trend of any of these things from the very beginning you can convince someone way better than just providing the ‘What’. Facts and clear trends simply speak louder than anything else. “How much is it providing me exactly?” reminds me to ask myself if I thoroughly understand how much the actual benefits are since the very moment I have become involved. This has since not only helped me in conversations with management but also in looking for trends on even more levels than I did before. So what about you? How much benefit has ‘Agile’ provided you and your environment exactly?