Agile: From software to store.

Phil Thorne 01/14/2021·3 min read

20 years ago a group of software engineers got together and wrote the Agile Manifesto.

Why? Software development was becoming bogged down in heavy documentation, restrictive process, and rigid hierarchies. A new way of working was declared, and the manifesto became a turning point for delivering better software. There are few development teams who don’t use some kind of agile methodology to run projects, and the space continues to grow.

Prior to agile, software was built in a sequential ‘waterfall’ fashion. Huge documentation and processes were required upfront before any work was carried out, and the plan was inflexible to change if new issues were discovered. Resources worked in siloed phases so could not work together on problems, and any changes to the original plan would involve long change request processes. Employees were seen as a resource to drive an output, rather than human inputs that could drive better outputs for customers.

The whole approach to Agile was around a bias to action, to making Software easier to deliver, improve, and drive value for the customer, through its four values:

  • Individuals and interactions over processes and tools.
  • Working software over comprehensive documentation.
  • Customer collaboration over contract negotiation.
  • Responding to change over following a plan.

The document concludes while there is value on the items on the right, we value the items on the left more.

Retail is lagging behind, and suffering for it.

Today Store Management has come to a similar position as Software was 20-years ago. Annual budgets and 3/5-year plans create a deterministic view of what the stores must deliver. Employees are weighed down by analyzing reports, completing tasks rather than actioning improvement in the business. A quick reflection on the growth of Agile software companies versus stores shows much of retail has been left behind.

It is time for a similar manifesto in retail – read ours here: