We don’t always get the friends we deserve. On one occasion, many years ago, one of them invited me to sail on his sailboat. I knew absolutely nothing about sailing and I have the healthy intention of keeping it that way forever.

Somewhat late, tired, we set a course for land. It’s easy to drift without any reference. A variation of less than one degree ends up, after a few tens of nautical miles, causing an enormous deviation. Without paying due attention to the instruments, we found ourselves at a point on the coast where it was impossible to disembark. Already desperate and drifting, we reached the harbor at night.

A slight initial variation in course grows exponentially and corrections have to be made throughout the crossing so as not to end up anywhere but where you wanted to end up. It’s a lesson I learned the hard way. 

This comparison has always been useful for me to communicate the importance of distinguishing between long-term goals, short-term goals, the corrections to be made based on the information received through the appropriate control mechanisms and metrics to determine where we are, and how to know when and how we got where we wanted to go. 

This, in Agile, is achieved with frequent deliverables to keep stakeholders informed about the trajectory and receive the necessary feedback to correct the course and, thus, manage uncertainty, cope with unforeseen changes and unexpected situations.

The major development goals are broken down into measurable units, as small as possible to focus efforts and adapt to the changing environment. In this way we manage uncertainty, make constant and small variations, report and inform value increases and receive the necessary information to readapt the strategy.

In a project I worked on, we were informed that we were integrating an obsolete part and, therefore, we had to retrace our steps, redo much of the code, review roadmaps, dependencies… And, in short, return to the project status of several months ago.

The change wasn’t communicated until it was too late. And, moreover, it was purely by chance, it wasn’t an active proposal, but a simple “passing by”. The team that developed the piece against which we were to integrate didn’t review the impact, didn’t coordinate with other areas involved and didn’t manage the changes of orientation or need of its functionalities.

Without communication, convergence and transparency, it’s impossible to review where we are, where we want to go and how to do it. The review must be constant and shared, especially in projects where several agents are involved, otherwise it isn’t possible to converge or manage business milestones.

Agile is not about alignment, because that curtails innovation and the discordant voices that enrich teams so much. Agile is about transparency and shared understanding of the situation at all times. Without that there is no incremental iterative development, no possibility of review and no delivery of value.

It’s critical to know where we stand with respect to everyone else, and vice versa. We need a frame of reference to be able to review the course with the tools at hand and our expertise to be able to get there. Agile helps us through short development cycles, review of the results to be able to modify the established plan and communication.


Image: Freepik | Bublikhaus


  • Jorge Alarcón

    Scrum Master en Keepler. “Working with people to build products that solve problems. Digital transformation is the new industrial revolution based on the fractal creation of team-based development systems. I collaborate with companies to understand problems and develop solution strategies.”