Its truly tiring sometimes to hear the way we overuse the word "innovation" when it comes to IT. I think its because weve been conditioned by certain parties to think that giant, memory-sucking media players embedded in Windows are particularly innovative, if not essential.
But in business today, innovation is so much more about processes and results than neat applications and cool features. How jobs get done and if the result is what is desired are as important as what is being produced.
So it was very refreshing, indeed, when I stumbled across an article about innovations around the methodologies and processes of software development. Heres one area in IT that we can truly say is practicing what it preaches when it comes to innovation.
The concepts of whats called Agile Programming may not be new to some of you, so forgive me if youve heard of them. But they are rather simple and extend out of other movements such as Extreme Programming to get developers to build better programs faster with fewer bugs.
The beauty of the Agile Manifesto (www.agilealliance.org), hammered out this year by 17 developers, is that the principles are not bound only to developers but can be applied also to just about anyone in business or IT:
• individuals and interactions over processes and tools;
• working software over comprehensive documentation;
• customer collaboration over contract negotiation;
• and responding to change over following a plan.
One manifestation of this is the revelation that people work better in teams than individually. In programming, that means fewer solo all-nighters. For the rest of us, it can mean putting aside the manual and making the result as important as how one gets there.
Its also a call to start working together, perhaps for the first time. If theres anything we have learned this past month, its that people working together can achieve things beyond our imaginations—for good and for evil. But for our purposes, lets see how much good we can accomplish.