How does the rabbit manage not to get eaten? Is it faster than its predators? Nope, it tries to spot predators early - it tries to see what is coming. Is is more nimble - it changes course quickly. It hides and avoids conflict but when cornered can also put up a fight. How does the groudhog manage not to get eaten...?
Unfortunately, the agile industrial complex seems to be focusing on sheer speed, measured in number of features per time. You out-develop your competitors by trimming off any fat from the development process - you know, useless stuff like user research, planning ahead, identifying risks. The measures of success you find often are 'KPIs' like 'burndown rate' or 'velocity'.
It is time to think again about what it means to be agile. Perhaps agile means seeing problems early because some time was spent developing a deep understanding of what makes a good or a bad day in your users' lives? Perhaps, instead of measuring success as delivery of 'features', we should tie development work directly to relevant success measures such as the extent to which we are supporting users and their activities. The user experience is not something to graft onto the development process but should be at the heart of it. Perhaps fewer features are better, so why do we celebrate 'burndown rates'?
If you are still reading and if the above chimes with you, perhaps you would be interested to work with me to develop ways of being agile that are uniquely adequate for your business or your community. I can help you assess the state of affairs in the way you set yourself up to be agile and identify practices that can help improve your way of working along dimensions such as reducing your risks or improving the fit between features developed and user needs. Get in touch...
Voss, Alexander. Can We Move Fast Without Breaking Things? Software Engineering Methods Matter to Human Rights Outcomes. Carr Center Discussion Paper Series, October 24, 2022.
Hartswood, Mark, Rob Procter, Roger Slack, Alex Voß, Monika Büscher, Mark Rouncefield, and Philippe Rouchy. Co-Realization: Toward a Principled Synthesis of Ethnomethodology and Participatory Design. In Resources, Co-Evolution and Artifacts: Theory in CSCW, 59–94. Computer Supported Cooperative Work. London: Springer, 2008.