A lot has been said about Agile lately…
Specially in Social Media, where there are many “specialists” from all areas. And there’s actually a big part of all that I have been hearing that makes me think people have actually misunderstood what Agile really is about.
There’s not just a misunderstanding of what Agile is truly about, but there’s also the false idea that Agile is this “silver bullet” that will solve all problems of an organization; and/or that Agile is this destination where companies that embark on the journey, believe they will get to…
This discomfort brought me to this article and a talk that I do on the same topic: What is Agile and Why Should We Care?
Agile is a set of Values, Principles and Practices; that together drive behaviour (yes, human behaviour); and when you have the majority of people behaving in a similar way, then you have a Culture.
And a Culture is what Agile really is. A mindset; a way of thinking and behaving; a culture.
The Agile Values are the Foundation.
And these values are really some very basic, day to day values, that most of us live by on our everyday lives.
Respect. Means having due regard for someone’s feelings, wishes, rights, thoughts, opinions, history.
Openness. In two ways. Being open to different points of view, perceptions, thoughts, understanding… diversity. And being able to work in the open; display your work, show people what you have been working on and feeling proud that others visualize it.
Courage. The ability and strength to be brave. To question the status quo. To challenge ‘as is’ and ‘has always been like this’ scenarios, processes, answers…. Change (in mindset and behaviour) will only happen if you have the courage to break through, to crack shells…
Trust. Belief in the reliability, ability, commitment of someone or something. This regards your management, your peers, your employees; your process, the ecosystem and all that this involves.
Empathy. Ability to understand and share the feelings of another… of your managers, your peers, your employees, your customers… If a person is frustrated and angry, really try to understand where they are coming from and why are they feeling that way. No judgement. Just understanding.
The Agile Principles. Let them guide you.
As my very own translation of the Agile Manifesto:
- Begin with Clarity about the Outcome, and let it guide every step of the way. Once the organization; management; you and the team understand where you’re headed to, this should become the “True North” where the group looks up to and connects steps and next steps to.
- Listen, Iterate, Learn and Course Correct… rather than wait until it’s perfect. This is what Agile is about. Experimenting, trying out, testing hypothesis instead of trying to come up with the perfect solution or process and then learning it doesn’t work and being left with this big chunk of waste and frustration (specially from the team! That will have to acknowledge they are throwing their time, effort, passion… in the garbage). Be iterative and learn fast.
- Encourage self-direction for teams to unleash innovation; instead of concentrating Leadership in the hands of a select few. Creativity, Passion, Purpose, Expertise in everybody’s hands and a company should make the most out of their individual beings. There is just SO much they can contribute with. Give people space to think, create, innovate, problem solve…
- Focus on the Customer and the Business Value. This should be more important than most other things… If you keep your mind on this (and the above), you will probably make the right decisions for your product, service or whatever you are putting out there in the market.
- Be flexible, adaptive and continuously improve within a collaborative team. The world changes. Everything changes. Accept, embrace and deal with it.
The Agile Practices
Ahhhh, this is a true buffet in terms of variety! Each Agile framework has their own set of practices (some of them are the same, with different names…); and these practices can be focused on Leadership, Collaboration; Delivery and more…
Don’t get caught into this. The practices are the least important part of the Agile behaviour enablement if you have the Values and the Practices understood and being lived. The practices are almost like a ‘detail’ and teams should be able to pick and choose what better suits them in terms of what problems and pains they are trying to minimize and solve.
In the Agile Culture, we should always be asking the question: “How can we get Better?”
This thought will drive inspection and opportunity to experiment with new things to bring you, your team and your company to even better places! – Yes, amazing!
Now, why should we care about this?
Well, if you have not made your own conclusions yet; I’ll help you with why I care about this shift…
- Change is inevitable. Agile has just shown to be a better way of embracing it and going about it with less waste, frustration and its consequences, like disengagement.
- It enables people and companies to identify incorrect approaches faster, which gives them the opportunity to act faster and have things back on track and with minimal impact.
- Enables achieving consensus and making decisions without suffering from big pains and going through so much churn and losing timing and momentum.
- Accelerates your time to market and proves the concept faster and better. AND, enables you to make more money, earlier.
- It’s about Value first; fewer defects; more quality… which will make your customers happier and believe me, they will come back to you due to the amazing experience your product or service provides/allows.
- Human behaviour is changing through different generations… Agile is just way more appealing to them, which happen to be your customers AND your workforce.
What are your thoughts about all this? Share with us!
Agile Coaching and Enterprise Culture change are my areas of expertise in a world that is going Digital and changing fast. I work with Individuals, Teams and Leadership to design and build a workplace that is adaptable to the ongoing changes and shifts in the world and that unleashes innovation within each individual being.