Thursday, August 26, 2010

Google Wave, Innovation and Agile

image The recent news that Google is officially shutting down “Wave” came as a shock.  Even though I never expected this to happen, I appreciate Google’s courage to shut down the product built with considerable amount of effort and money. This courage reminded me of the courage, one of the core values in Extreme Programming(XP).


Courage in XP is explained with as example as
Courage is knowing when to throw code away: courage to remove source code that is obsolete, no matter how much effort was used to create that source code



After re-reading the core values, I have been getting more questions than answers !
Do we really practice Courage in our projects ?  What fear do we have ?  Why do we hesitate to take risky decisions ? Who influences our decisions while we are on the project ? What do we need to change to practice courage ?

Coming back to topic of Google wave, the reaction to the Google Wave shutting down news has been pretty much mixed. Broadly the reactions were of 2 categories:


One really bashing Google for not thinking through  and finally shutting down the product


ppreciating Google’s courage and ability make quick decisions

I felt that these two reactions could be compared to Waterfall thinking and Agile thinking respectively.  The reason for this analogy is, Waterfall mentality is to force every one to think through all the possible things and create a plan engraved on stone. Agile being incremental and iterative in nature gathering constant feedback taking quick decisions every day. 

Even though waterfall way theoretically looks to work, it never does.  Agile thinking is all about quick action, getting the feedback and making course corrections, which I think Google did it as in the case of Google Wave.

Keeping the Google’s cue in mind, if one key value like courage is injected in Agile projects, then Agile teams will get an additional teeth to be more innovative. Without Courage, they would end up stuck with Waterfall thinking in the guise of Agile.

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