Why we created Practical Agile?


Get your paper tissues ready, as this is a love story. Maybe we should make a Hollywood movie of it someday. Well, jokes aside, it really is, albeit not in the romantic sense.

Elad, Lior and I set Practical Agile in 2012. To be precise, the day the company was minted was the day of the first Agile Practitioners conference, and the two organizations go hand in hand. One is a commercial organization, the other non-profit.
But I am ahead of myself. A little bit of background first.

The three of us, Elad, Lior and I, had various experiences of working in organizations. By using two vignettes (Elad loves it when I use this word) I will divide these experiences into two major groups:

Software Development Awesomeness

It is spring of 1994, and the CEO of the company I worked for at the time came back from yet another trip abroad. Nothing exciting about that, yet. But then, a week and a bit later he got a call from the prospect: “remember you promised a week and a half ago that you can deliver our entire system in two weeks? Well, expect us at your office in 5 days time”. An hour and an urgent meeting later, Mr CEO explained what just happened, and what we need to show in just 5 days.

What happened next was one of the most memorable times of my career as a software expert. We worked 4 days straight. I saw the sunrise and the sunset at the office multiple times during that short period. We worked as a team, as if we were on rocket fuel. In less than 5 days, we managed to use the client’s manual regression testing document in order to understand how their system worked, get our system to behave as close as possible to theirs, and develop a PoC for a touch-screen restaurant point of sale, and develop a PoC for running our application on their old proprietary hardware. Of course, we won that deal, and, bar the proprietary hardware thing, the first two artifacts laid the basis for variants of our product that evolved over the next two decades.

Software Development Gloominess

It is now 2007, and I am a team member of software architects for a large software product. I am learning a new piece of software towards creating a high level architecture for an enhancement. To enable myself to learn, I want to install the existing system, or at least to get access to a working one I can play with. I consult my manager, my peers, other teams, and I feel that I am advancing in turtle steps. A handicap turtle, at that. Just to get a UNIX account or a DB account requires multiple signatures and asking people to do me favors, for something that seems so trivial to me. A couple of weeks later, I succumb to this reality. I ask for people to show me on some systems how things work today, and consult on how to make it work for the new features. I already gave up on a playground system of my own. Feedback is slow, as everyone is so busy with other stuff, which makes me busy figuring out how to make the next tiny incremental step, until I get enough clarity to define the next feature. For sure, everyone here has a brain the size of a watermelon or a pumpkin, everyone is really nice. But there is no flow, it’s like sitting in a still swamp, waiting for a current to take you away. But you just slowly drift away with everyone else.

Same person, two greatly different experiences. At the time, I didn’t have the tools and the knowledge how to explain them, and how to influence a change towards that Awesomeness. Then in 2007 I discovered Scrum and Agile, and gradually things started to make sense. I experimented a lot (and failed frequently) and gradually I gained the knowledge and experience to make software development what it should be: both productive and fun.

I first met Elad when we both worked for Retalix, many years ago. Then in 2010 I stumbled upon his name, and saw he was an Agile Coach, and I made contact. Elad introduced me to Lior, and we started to talk about an Agile community in Israel. A body of professionals who are enthusiastic about experiencing that kind of Awesomeness where they work. These talks let to talks about the Agile Practitioners conference, and, while working on the conference we found out that we make a great team, and that we would like to turn this into our day jobs. So we did. That’s how Practical Agile came to be.

It took us another two years to crystalize what get us ticking. But then, with the help of a talented business coach, Hagai Shalev, we succeeded in explaining this to ourselves:

“Practical Agile helps our clients develop products that customers love and employees love to develop.
We do this through Agility, excellence in process, engineering-practices and learning-culture.”

That is why we created Practical Agile. We know – from our experience – that making software should be fun. That it’s a team sport, in which everyone wins. That, just like sports, or playing music, it’s hard work to improve day after day, and that success is such great fun that it’s worth all the failures on the way to success.

Luckily for us, today we are surrounded by a team who shares the same notion (visit our homepage) – through experience and knowledge. We love our work, we love coming to work, and we love helping others fall in love with their work, bringing delight to their customers.

If you want to learn how to end gloominess and achieve awesomeness, or if you want to become even more awesome than you already are – talk to us. Our passion is to help people and organizations like you.

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