Don’t do Agile! Be agile!

There’s Agile and there’s agile! Doesn’t seem like there is a big difference? There definitely is!

So, what do you do?

Call the month a sprint, call the day one story point, drink your coffee in the morning standing up and send burn-up/down reports to management. Done! You’re doing Agile now! But surprisingly you don’t deliver more results (maybe even less), your customers are not delighted and the team is pretty frustrated because of this “our-kinda-agile”.

What you should do?

Listen to your people carefully and understand their strengths and worries. Give them more freedom to deploy their strengths. Expect and understand that uncertainty and complexity are part of our world today and there’s no other way to deal with those things except trial and error or failing fast. Make people see the real result of their work and help them understand and visualize that it takes a whole team to create something valuable for the end customer. And yes, you may want to capitalize on the fact that there is an end customer who happens to pay our salaries. And they also pay for our coffee breaks and our gym subscription. So maybe you want to also talk about value-adding activities and waste. So next time when you have to spend two hours in a meaningless meeting at least you feel sorry for doing it. Or even better, you don’t go and do something more valuable with your time. Now, that’s a lot of common-sense advice, but how do you get there?

Agile is the journey

And like any journey, it starts with some preparation. People really need to understand Agile. I mean train them on Agile, I mean truly understand the meaning, the philosophy and the nuances of Agile. Clarify all the myths and understand and accept that there will be some constraints.

Once the understanding is clear you have to practice it. Pick whatever practice or technique makes sense for you and use in real life. So how it’s done, what results you get and whether it was a good idea to implement it. And remember, Agile is about empirical processes which means they need practice.

Practicing it more and more will lead to something interesting. You will start to believe. And you believe in this way of thinking and working you will start to live Agile and it is in that moment you are agile. As I said, it’s a journey.

© Rolf Consulting