Why Washington Needs to Embrace Agile

The White House

The White House

Agile is a framework for software development defined as:

“…  a group of software development methods based on iterative and incremental development, where requirements and solutions evolve through collaboration between self-organizing, cross-functional teams. It promotes adaptive planning, evolutionary development and delivery, a time-boxed iterative approach, and encourages rapid and flexible response to change.” Wikipedia

Which of the words used above would you not associate with what happens in Washington today? Collaboration? Self-organizing? Cross-functional? Or perhaps the phrase “encourages rapid and flexible response to change”? Whichever end of the political spectrum you occupy, you have to admit that neither party has been able to “cross the chasm” as it were. Why? Because Washington has not embraced the principles of Agile development. Don’t laugh. Imagine a Washington where the governing body embodied the twelve principles of the Agile Manifesto [the words in bold italics have been changed for effect]:

Our highest priority is to satisfy the electorate
through early and continuous delivery
of valuable governance.

Welcome changing requirements, even late in
legislation. Agile processes harness change for
the country’s competitive advantage.

Deliver working legislation frequently, from a
couple of weeks to a couple of months, with a
preference to the shorter timescale.

Business people and government must work
together daily throughout the process.

Build projects around motivated individuals.
Give them the environment and support they need,
and trust them to get the job done.

The most efficient and effective method of
conveying information to and within Washington
team is face-to-face conversation.

Mutually beneficial legislation is the primary measure of progress.

Agile governance promotes sustainable long-term growth for the country.
The government, business and the people should be able
to maintain a constant pace indefinitely.

Continuous attention to governing excellence
and collaborative design enhances agility.

Simplicity–the art of maximizing the amount
of work not done–is essential.

The best architectures, requirements, and designs
emerge from self-organizing teams.

At regular intervals, the government reflects on how
to become more effective, then tunes and adjusts
its behavior accordingly.

At the end of the day, it is easy to critique how and why our system doesn’t work and it can be argued that it is also easier to deflect the focus onto what didn’t work rather than what did. In the end, none of that really matters because no matter who wins, the sun will rise on November 7 and America will be on the other side of yet another election. The question is whether or not “We the People” will have elected a body of governing representatives that are able to work as efficiently, proficiently and prolifically as a truly agile team.

Author:

Lydia Loizides

Lydia is the founder and CEO of GGGrit, a technology start-up whose mission is to empower women everywhere to take control of developing their career capital – the hard and soft skills that are at the core of success at work. In life. At any age or life stage. You can also follow her on Twitter at @lydianyc.

  • Paula Lynn

    Monarchies do not compromise. They create laws to keep ultimate power and wealth. In this case, those who are seeking to establish a monarchy do not compromise. And the Savranollas have more validity than science or the public. History.