I was sat watching ‘Grand Designs’ with my wife a while ago (It’s not a programme I would normally watch, but I was looking to earn some brownie points at the time) and I noticed just how agile the couple were in terms of creating their perfect home. For those who don’t know, ‘Grand Designs’ is a programme where couples design and build their dream homes (some of which are truly amazing). The couple on this particular episode had some basic requirements for their new house in terms of size and location but that was about it. They had bought some land in a nice location, received the designs from the architect and started building. This seemed to surprise the presenter of the programme, who was astounded that the couple hadn’t worked out all of the tiny details for how they wanted their dream house to look and what it would contain upfront. He made his opinions clear to the couple that he thought they were mad to start with the actual building of the house, as they would surely end up wasting loads of time and money.
What actually happened astonished both him and my wife (who had agreed with the presenter’s views), but will come as no surprise to those of you who use agile on a day to day basis. As the house went up, the couple worked through each stage of the process, always staying just one step ahead of the builders. They made sure that they had narrowed down the requirements for the next part of the build, just in time for when the builders got there. They were always on hand, ready to provide guidance or offer feedback on certain aspects of the build. The build was completed on schedule (almost unheard of on this programme it would seem) and the house met the couple’s requirements and expectations.
This may not have been software development, but we can still see the agile process at work here with a Stakeholder/Product Owner prioritising their backlog in terms of importance and providing continuous feedback. They only worried about the small details when they were sufficiently close to being worked on by the builders, as opposed to getting all the specifications laid out at the beginning.
It just goes to show that provided that you apply it properly, the agile methodology comes up trumps every time, even outside of software development.
All I need to do now is convince my wife to live in a house that looks like a castle and we can get started on building our ‘Grand Design’!