Sunday, February 28, 2010

What If Congress Adopted the Agile Manifesto?

I wish Congress was full of Agile Practitioners (Poppendieck for Senate!). Thinking about this I wondered how the process of passing Heath Care would look when judged through the lens of the Agile Manifesto. Below is my retrospective of HR3200.

The Agile
Legislative Manifesto:

1) Our highest priority is to satisfy the customer through early and continuous delivery of valuable legislation.

...9 months and 2074 pages, ummm I don't think so...

2) Welcome changing requirements, even late in development. Agile processes harness change for the customer's competitive advantage.

...Congress did implement some "competitve advantages" for customers like Louisiana ($100M in exemptions), California ($300M in Medicare payments), AARP received $18M in stimulus money and the Unions got an exemption for "Cadillac" health plans. However these "advantages" inure to the benefit of constituencies, some stakeholders may disagree.

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


4) All Parties must work together daily throughout the project.

...Fail again, 'nuff said

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

...There have certainly been a lot of "motivated individuals" working on this but not a lot of "trust" and "support."

6) The most efficient and effective method of conveying information to and within a legislative team is face-to-face conversation.

...There appear to have been many closed-door "face-to-face conversations," unfortunately many essential stakeholders were excluded, the entire process could have benefited with some transparency, courtesy of C-span.

7) Working legislation is the primary measure of progress.

...No measurable velocity yet.

8) Agile processes promote sustainable development of legislation. The sponsors, legislators, and users should be able to maintain a constant pace indefinitely.

...The political machine has chewed up and spit out everybody involved. "Sustainable development"
has yet to be achieved.

9) Continuous attention to legislative excellence and good design enhances agility.

...Maybe this can be included in a future iteration

10) Simplicity--the art of maximizing the amount of work not done--is essential.

...I think Congress skipped this step. Oh well, it was the only "essential" step.

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

...All teams were "self-organized" unfortunately they organized down party lines.

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

...Mid-term elections could make for an interesting retrospective.


Agile Bob said...

This is great! What made you think of looking at it from this perspective?

Bob Hartman

waltal said...

I like your thinking! Matybe if we had elections every year two good things would happen: 1) no more endless effin debate about term limits and 2) agile politicians that listen to constituents stay in office and the big bonus: 3) Harder to get bought off by big money in the campaigns

Scheevel said...

@AgileBob Thanks, observing the process of legislation it looks a lot like project management, Agile is the perfect fit. If someone created an "Agile" Party Ticket I'd vote for it.

@Waltal I agree with all your points. "Big money" is no problem if it's all transparent. Let the money flow, actually knowing who's private entities are supporting legislation would shine a spotlight on suspect policies. Yay for Agile transparency.

Mark Graban said...

I've always wondered why "health reform" is a huge giant batch of work. Why not small batch legislation? Pass the parts that people agree on... but then again, that would eliminate payoffs and swaps back and forth, the sleazy side of DC.