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Judging an Agile Book

I’m in Grand Rapids, Michigan, to speak at the Great Lakes Software Excellence Conference.  If you ever imagined what an “Agile” company looked like, I think I am looking at it right now.  I’m blogging today from Atomic Object.  The exterior of the 100 year-old building is very unassuming.  Upon entering the building, I’m greeted by several dogs.  Yes, like in man’s-best-friend dogs.  They give me the once-over and allowed me to pass.  I walk past a wall with mountain bikes and walk upstairs to discover a truly Agile workspace.

The floors are a light wood and the workspace is wide open.  There is plenty of natural light.  In the middle of the room is a functioning stop light.  It’s exactly what I thought it was.  It’s an information radiator to indicate if the build is broken or not.  Fortunately, the light is green.  I’m now sipping on a freshly brewed cup of black coffee and enjoying web access.  There are almost as many whiteboards as there are approachable friendly people.

I know you should not judge a book by its cover.  But, if I’m looking for a book on Agile, I would have a few expectations.  This place and the people working here exceed those expectations.

When I return to Washington DC tomorrow night, I’ll take with me the first hand confirmation that Agile workspaces (and companies) are so much more inviting than those with cube farms or offices.

About Derek Huether

I'm Vice President of Enterprise Engagements at LeadingAgile. I'm super focused on results. But I also take the hand waving out of organizational transformations. I come from a traditional PM background but I don't give points for stuff done behind the scenes. The only thing that counts is what you get done and delivered. Author of Zombie Project Management (available on Amazon)

3 Responses to “Judging an Agile Book”

  1. Anonymous
    April 17, 2011 at 3:00 pm

    I’d conjecture that the design of the office space has little to do with being agile or not. I’ve been in the work place since 1978 and seen the good, the bad and the ugly in all domains and the correlation with agile seems synthetic. Our local IBM Global services is and example as are several other IBM facilities with super-modern work environments. The reuters building in London is over the top work environment. At the same time the very creative space of a national ad agency here in boulder is a warehouse of cubes.

    Correlation is not causation.

    • Anonymous
      April 17, 2011 at 3:39 pm

      Glen I do agree with you. Correlation is not causation but if this company had said they embraced “Agile” practices but they had no common space and no information radiators, I would stop for a moment and ask why. It’s like saying you’re a “Friend of the environment” and you drive a Hummer versus a hybrid or EV (or anything but a Hummer). I would be left scratching my head. I’m just saying the work environment did not contradict the initial introduction. If anything, it reinforced it.

  2. Anonymous
    April 18, 2011 at 11:46 pm

    Carl, I’ve been in environments where we worked to make the facilities as conducive to collaborative as possible. But, Atomic had more than just a good physical layout. It had a vibe. I sat and watched the employees for about 10 minutes. They were focused but they looked like they were genuinely enjoying themselves. So, I would add one more requirement. Perhaps, Agile also requires a culture. Atomic clearly has that culture.

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