Lessons in agility from wine tasting…

From the Easy in theory, difficult in practice Blog
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My musings on project management, project portfolio management and change management. I'm a firm believer that a pragmatic approach to organizational change that addresses process & technology, but primarily, people will maximize chances for success. This blog contains articles which I've previously written and published as well as new content.

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Categories: Agile, Change Management, Project Management


One of the benefits of living in the Greater Toronto Area is being less than an hour away from a large number of good wineries in the Niagara region. After visiting many wineries over 2018, I have come to the conclusion that wine tasting and agile have more in common than you might think.

It helps to have a guide

You could certainly partake in a flight of wine with friends without the benefit of a sommelier, but you won’t enjoy the experience as much and you might learn some bad habits such as not giving your wine a chance to breathe or drinking without sniffing the bouquet. Similarly a coach can help steer a team past anti-patterns so that they have a chance to appreciate what agility truly is.

Start small and grow from there

For novices, visiting more than one winery in a day could be a recipe for disaster. Without having developed the discipline to pace themselves they run the risk of getting tipsy too quickly and might get turned off by the experience. Starting with a large project is inadvisable for novice teams – they won’t possess the discipline to scale their behavior and practices and might blame agile rather than their immaturity.

There is no one right way

While there are good principles for enjoying wine, don’t let anyone try to convince you that you must follow pairing guidelines. While a robust red wine might be a good match for a meat dish, if you enjoy its flavour there is no reason you can’t have it with any other type of cuisine or even on its own. User stories are a good approach to starting a conversation about functional requirements, but don’t be bullied by agile wannabes who insist that all requirements must be captured as stories. Like with any practice, context and culture count.

Teams doing agile might make you want to drink but I prefer to have the perspective of the (wine) glass being half-full.

(Note: this article was originally decanted in June 2017 on kbondale.wordpress.com)

Posted on: January 09, 2019 08:21 AM | Permalink

Comments (15)

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I hadn't thought to use this analogy but I agree that it makes sense. Although to be honest I'm more into whiskey than wine.

Enlightening take on agility using wine tasting as analogy! Thanks for sharing, Kiron.

Thanks Glenn - I like my single malts too and a Scottish distillery tour is definitely on my bucket list, but till then, I've got to make do with the local Canadian wineries and the Forty Creek whisky distillery that's nearby!

Thanks Pang!

Makes sense. Great analogy Kiron.

As the velocity of the team improves, they are able to visit multiple wineries in a day !

Good article. Thanks for sharing

Thanks Rami and great insight, Deepesh - I like that!

Nice comparison Kiron.

Very nice Kiron! Also, tasting notes and pictures can serve as artifacts for a retrospective on the visit :)

Very nice analogy Kiron.

With experience you might also reduce the size of your "tour" as you focus on or put more effort into "quality"?

Thanks Drake and good additions, John & Ashleigh!

Nice, fun, post! Not a big wine buff, but certainly see the analogy. Sounds fun, too. :)

Nice analogy, Thanks

Another option is a small group tour bus organized, no problem for the return. Let you visit more wineries and keep SAFE.

Thanks Andrew!

Thanks Vincent, is that SAFe :-) ?

Brilliant.

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