I was like a kid on Christmas morning recently when I learned that Google was releasing a backwards-compatible version of their Android Turn-by-Turn GPS App for the G1. Yeah, I know, my G1 is rather ugly sitting next to an iPhone, but what my G1 lacks in the hip and style department it makes up for in utility. The new GPS capability was yet another practical way for me to enjoy all of Androids goodness… or so I thought.
The christening of my G1 GPS App happened last week. I had a meeting scheduled for downtown Raleigh, which from my office generally takes 20-25 minutes to navigate during off peak hours. Since I know this terrain well (I’ve lived in Raleigh my entire life) I decided this would be as good a trip as any to enjoy my newly transformed G1. So I fired up Google Maps and selected Navigation and off I went.
I don’t know about you, but when I’m traveling familiar terrain in the car my brain instantly switches off “active navigation” and uses this time to work through issues related to work and home, so with my trusty Google Navigator by my side I knew I could make productive use of my quick trip. After approx. twenty minutes into my trip my brain reengaged to evaluate how my trusty G1 GPS was doing. To my horror I realized I was at least another 20 minutes from arriving at my destination and that my trusty GPS has guided me through the worst possible route to my destination. Wow, had I really just spent 20 minutes blindly following the directions provided by a tool when my knowledge of the local terrain was clearly superior to that of Google Maps? I’m sorry to say but the answer was yes.
So what does this have to do with Scrum Tools? Nothing and everything! In the last ten years I have helped clients roll-out broad Agile transformation programs and I’ve learned that sponsoring executives are often eager to standardize new practices with tools as quickly as possible. While the common refrain from those in the Agile community is to avoid tools until a team has acquired some maturity around Agile values and practices, I for one believe and have proven that in large companies appropriate Agile tooling is not only helpful but necessary. My Android GPS experience however should serve as a practical reminder to all of us that tools (even those designed to support Agile practices) should never be allowed to discourage our teams from thinking and using their knowledge of “local terrain” to make smart decisions even when those decisions appear in conflict with the standard process or tool.
Posted by: Brad Murphy, Founder/ CEO of Gear Stream. You can reach Brad via LinkedIn.