Learning from the World of Business Bankruptcy and Software Development

Kodak, the iconic company that was synonymous with pictures, has declared bankruptcy.

When that news came out last week, I knew I would be getting around to connecting it to ChurchWorld. James Emery White, pastor of Mecklenburg Community Church in Charlotte, NC, already has: What Business Are You In? is a great post that every ChurchWorld leader needs to read.

As soon as I had finished reading it, my thoughts went back to the Generation Flux cover story from Fast Company that I posted here, here, and here last week. There were several topics that I had marked in it for future research, and one of them ties in nicely to the bankruptcy announcement by Kodak and White’s post.

It’s about being agile.

I’m not talking exclusively about physical agility, the ability to move quickly and with suppleness, skill, and control; I’m not talking only about mental agility, the ability to be able to think quickly and intelligently. It’s really a combination of the two, and more.

Software development used to be developed by what chaos expert DJ Patil called the “waterfall” process:

One group develops the product, another builds visual mockups…and finally a set of engineers builds it to some specification document.

Think Microsoft and their practice of having a designated schedule of issuing large, finished releases of their products (Windows 95, Windows 2000, etc.). Today that process has given way to “agile” development, what Patil calls “the ability to adapt and iterate quickly throughout the product life cycle.” In today’s software world, that concept follows the precepts of “The Agile Manifesto,” a 2001 document written by a group of developers who stated a preference for:

  • individuals and interactions over processes and tools
  • working software over comprehensive documentation
  • responding to change over following a plan

Maybe it’s time for an Agile Manifesto for ChurchWorld.