By Katie Boothroyd

Agile & Scrum is a method used in software development (originated in manufacturing) that focuses on rapid, iterative work cycles, and relies on collaboration, flexibility, and transparency more so than the traditional Waterfall method. More and more we’re seeing agile implementation with tech clients, as well as organizations with growing software components. Although the Manifesto for Agile Software Development defines the entire approach, and references such as the Agile Academy are easily accessible, we’ve noticed that each organization, and even teams within the same organization, practices only some of the methods. We set out to find out why…

DEGW partnered with Carbon 5 to host an Agile Roundtable with Real Estate/Facilities professionals and Agile Software Developers from a variety of companies, ranging from organizations as large as Yahoo! and SAP to as small as a sole proprietor and start-up from around the San Francisco Bay Area. The event was held at the Autodesk Gallery in SF, which was an excellent venue for our interactive half-day session.

We confirmed our hypothesis that physical space and leadership support would cause adoption variance.  We also discovered a wide range of variables influencing agile implementation, including:

  • Size of teams
  • Type of product
  • Length of project and iterations
  • Degree of change from current process
  • Working with an audience
  • Team and individual preferences

The other objective of our Roundtable was to gather ideas and develop solutions about how best to support agile teams with appropriate resources and space. Adding our own spin on some agile methods, our team facilitated an activity to create prototypes of the ideal space for different agile team personas, developed from the adoption research findings.  Armed with clay, origami paper, Popsicle sticks, pipe cleaners and 45 minutes to plan and build, our participants turned what looked like a Martha Stewart craft project into quite impressive and informative models.

After teams described the features of their agile team prototype, we critiqued and conducted user tests of each environment and then compared commonalities and differences.

A high level comparison revealed that most team spaces looked and functioned very similarly. All four prototypes included re-configurability, vertical surfaces for writing and pinning documents, transparency, and a mix of collaborative and individual space to support specific activities. Unique elements of the spaces reflected the culture and preferences of the teams.

DEGW is in the process of documenting the details of each persona and prototype and creating a moderate and low budget “kit of (furniture) parts” that would result in a great agile team space.