Case Discussion: Blue Cloud Gets Agile

Case Discussion: Blue Cloud Gets Agile

Read “Blue Cloud Gets Agile,” and prepare answers to the following questions:
1. What was the trigger event that led Shel Skinner to adopt Agile?
2. What is your evaluation of the change implementation steps followed by Skinner?
3. \Nhat behavioral changes, if any, does Agile require of employees?
4. How do you account for such widely varied responses to Agile among Blue Cloud
employees?
5. What should Skinner do now?
Blue Cloud Gets Agile
After attending a conference on a new methodology for software development known as Agile,
Shel Skinner, CEO of Blue Cloud Development, a small software development company
located in Mountain View, California, hired consultants to introduce the methodology.
At its core, Agile emphasized multiple iterations and short time frames. Created by a group of
software developers, the Agile Manifesto (2001) declared:
We are uncovering better ways of developing software by doing it and helping others do it.
Through this work we have come to value:
• Individuals and interactions over processes and tools
• Working software over comprehensive documentation
• Customer collaboration over contract negotiation
• Responding to change over following a plan
That is, while there is value in the items on the right, we value the items on the left more
In addition, Agile held 12 principles:
1. Our highest priority is to satisfy the customer through early and continuous delivery of
valuable software.
2. Welcome changing requirements, even late in development. Agile processes harness
change for the customer’s competitive advantage.
3. Deliver working software frequently, from a couple of weeks to a couple of months, with
a preference to the shorter timescale.
4. Business people and developers must work together daily throughout the project.
5. Build projects around motivated individuals. Give them the environment and support
they need, and trust them to get the job done.
6. The most efficient and effective method of conveying information to and within a
development team is face-to-face conversation.
7. Working software is the primary measure of progress.
8. Agile processes promote sustainable development. The sponsors, developers, and
users should be able to maintain a constant pace indefinitely.
9. Continuous attention to technical excellence and good design enhances agility.
1 0. Simplicity-the art of maximizing the amount of work not done-is essential.
11. The best architectures, requirements, and designs emerge from self-organizing teams.
12. At regular intervals, the team reflects on how to become more effective, then tunes and
adjusts its behavior accordingly.
“These principles spoke to me on a very fundamental level,” said Skinner. “These folks were
saying out loud for what I’d been thinking most of my career.”
Blue Cloud’s traditional developmental cycle emphasized a deliberate sequence of
development, with verification (testing and debugging) often occurring after a year’s worth of
work. “Why waste a year to find out whether our product is working,” Skinner wondered. No
more alpha and beta testing of new software: “Our new motto around here is, ‘Release early,
release often!'”
What appealed to Skinner was Agile’s emphasis on teamwork, collaboration, and monthly
releases. Cross-functional development teams held a daily “serum” to ensure that all members
were fully on board with the progress and that all questions and concerns were raised in a timely
manner. Skinner provided a description of the Scrum:25

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