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  • Dave McKenna

Solar Eclipse?

This week, we experienced an eclipse here in Pittsburgh. We were not on what was known as the path of totality. The sun was blocked at 80 to 85%. Further north, in places like Erie, they were expecting upwards of 150,000 people to show up to see the total eclipse.

I would love to go to Erie. I enjoy the beaches on Presque Isle and the excellent walleye fishing. I had no desire to go up there with all the congestion to have it get dark in the afternoon

That being said, As the moon aligns perfectly with the sun, casting a shadow over the Earth, the world witnessed the awe-inspiring event of a total eclipse. This natural phenomenon offers more than just a breathtaking spectacle; it serves as a metaphor for the principles of Agile

You just knew I was going to go there, didn’t you….

So, what lessons can we learn?

1. Alignment and Focus:

During a total eclipse, the alignment of the sun, moon, and Earth is crucial for the phenomenon to occur. With Agile, you need alignment between the team, the business, and the stakeholders. There needs to be a shared vision that everybody aligns with. The Scaled Agile Framework calls them Strategic themes, which help identify Portfolio Epics.

OK, don’t freak out; I’m not going to get all SAFe-preachy here

Let’s keep things simple. The teams must have a common goal to align their sprint goals. As the team reaches sprint goals, it moves closer to the overall goal (or vision) I call that another brick on the yellow brick road on our way to Emerald City

Keeping with the eclipse theme, have you ever synchronized the Pink Floyd album Dark Side of the Moon with the Wizard of Oz? If you mute the movie and start the album as soon as MGM Lion roars for the third time, all kinds of weird coincidences occur. For example, Roger Waters sings “Balanced on the biggest wave” as Dorothy is balancing on the farm’s fence.

2. Collaboration and Communication

The occurrence of a total eclipse involves intricate interactions between celestial bodies, each playing a unique role in the phenomenon. Likewise, agile development thrives on collaboration and communication. I often say that a sprint is like a square dance. Everybody needs to work together closely, collaborate, drive problem-solving, and foster innovation. That square dance becomes a mosh pit if teams don't collaborate and communicate.

3. Resilience and Persistence:

Despite the complexities involved, total eclipses occur predictably and reliably, showcasing the resilience and persistence of natural phenomena. In agile development, resilience is essential for overcoming obstacles and setbacks along the journey. Teams must persevere through challenges, learn from failures, and remain committed to delivering value iteratively.

The total eclipse serves as a compelling metaphor for the principles of agile. It might be a bit of a stretch, but the eclipse reminds us of the transformative power of embracing agility in software development.

Go forth and be agile


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