My name is Brian Button, and I am honored to be the chair of the Agile Alliance 2024 Board of Directors. I want to take a few minutes to introduce myself to Agile Alliance members and the community.
My journey in the world of development and Agile
I came up through the ranks of developers starting in the late 1980s. I worked on a number of really fun projects, like spending a month on a ship in the North Sea delivering navigation software for oil and gas survey vessels, designing Mission Control Center software for NASA, and delivering the first piece of software created at Microsoft that released source code and unit tests. As much as I had enjoyed developing, my career was about to make a change.
Transitioning to Agile and giving back to the community
In 1999, I was introduced to the Agile world by several Agile Manifesto signatories. This opened up a whole new world for me and set the tone and path of my career for the past 20+ years. I’ve stayed in that world since as a consultant, trainer, change agent, and now software director, helping deliver several important products for health care and food safety.
Because of all the Agile world has given me, I felt passionate about giving back to the community. I’ve done that since 2010 by volunteering with Agile Alliance in a couple of ways. First, I spent eight years working on the Agile20xx conference series, culminating in being conference chair in 2016 and 2018. After finishing the Agile2018 conference, I decided the best way to continue to work for the community was to run for the Agile Alliance Board. I’ve now served on the board for five years and am serving as chair in my sixth and final year. I’m already curious about where my passion for volunteering will go after I finish this year!
Finally, and most importantly, I’ve been happily married for almost 32 years, with a brilliant, successful wife (yeah, she was a NASA rocket scientist!) and three equally brilliant children, all successfully launched into the world!
Now, on to what I’d like to accomplish and influence in my year as Agile Alliance chair. In 2024, the Agile world is at an inflection point. When I first started, Agility, or at least my part of Agility, was about finding new ways of developing valuable software. Since that time, our community and our scope have grown by leaps and bounds. Now we’re into the C-suite, talking about and practicing business Agility, helping companies that have nothing to do with creating software to adopt Agile to make themselves better, and so much more – we’re everywhere!
Challenges and successes of Agile today
But now that we’re here, and we’re succeeding, the voices of our critics are shouting ever more loudly that Agile has failed! They could not be more wrong – Agile has not failed. It has succeeded so well that it is beginning to meld into corporate culture, becoming something that we just do rather than something we’re trying to learn. And this is the ultimate success!
At the same time we’re succeeding externally, we’re showing signs of drifting apart internally. We’re forming specializations around processes, practices, and roles, which makes it harder to collaborate as smoothly as we once did. And our presence in critically needed areas, particularly on the technical side, is less than it once was. None of these are insurmountable challenges, but they are worth addressing. Agile Alliance was formed with the intent of being the “Big Tent of Agility,” welcoming anyone wanting to learn about, practice, or use agile methods. That is not going to change.
Invitation for ideas and participation
In fact, beginning this year, I want to focus on inviting everyone in the Agile world into that tent, especially those we’ve lost over the years. If you’re involved with Agility at all, you’re welcome to join us. It doesn’t matter the process, business, role, or experience… we’d love to have you as part of the Agile Alliance community. Here are a few of the concrete steps we’ll be taking this year:
- We are going all-in on Reimagining Agile. This important movement, launched by Jim Highsmith, Jon Kerr, Sanjiv Augustine, and former Agile Alliance Board Chair Heidi Musser, is about bringing Agilists back together. It’s about considering where Agile came from, what is special about it, remembering the values and principles behind it, and thinking about how we can move it forward together.
Agile Alliance does not own Reimagining Agile any more than any of you, but we do commit to doing everything in our power to help make it successful. That includes giving it a voice in front of our members and the Agile community in virtual events and at our conference this summer to help spread the word about what it is and why it is. It also includes contributing to it through ideas and content and by providing other forums through which people can discuss these important topics.
- We are adding virtual and in-person events around the world to bring together Agilists in ways that let ideas be spread even more widely. These events will target the breadth of the Agile experience, letting people see beyond what they already know about this world and exposing them to new ideas and experiences in Agility. We also promise to get better about offering these events in time zones that are a better fit for those who are not near North America.
- We are focusing on expanding and reigniting our Initiatives, which are member-led efforts around some aspect of the Agile experience. Agile Alliance is the organizing and supporting body for these initiatives – the passion for their actions comes from the initiative owner and those who choose to participate. We’ve hosted or are hosting such important initiatives as Women in Agile, Agile in Color, Agile Coaching Ethics, Five Saturdays, Emerging Economies, Agiledemics, Agile Sustainability, and so many more.
Several of these initiatives have broken new ground in the Agile world and have turned into important contributors to our community and even the world at large! We’d love to have more ideas for impactful initiatives. If you have an idea for one, drop me a note, and we can talk.
I have one in mind personally that I may try after I retire from the board. I’ve talked to a bunch of people about it for several years, and the enthusiasm is there. I call it #BringBackTheDevs, and it would be focused on how we can get more developers excited about an Agile way of working and developing software. Technical Agility is such a big part of the success of any Agile development effort, and we need to get that word out!
- There are several other things I don’t have room to go into here. If you want to learn more about what we’re doing and where we’re headed this year, feel free to drop me a note. I’m very excited to talk about it.
I, and the rest of the Agile Alliance Board of Directors, look forward to 2024, to the challenge of continuing to provide great programming and services to our members, and helping the Agile community take our collective steps into the future!