Stop murdering “Agile”, and be agile instead
“Agile Macabre” on techcamp.hamburg, Apr-2020 I’ve been leading projects since 2002, becoming a full-blown agilist around 2011. Not so long...
“Agile Macabre” on techcamp.hamburg, Apr-2020
We keep hearing “Agile is Dead” – sceptics joking, shrugging it off, having had enough of the contentless propaganda of the agilists. When the #tchh guys reached out for us to give a talk, we decided to tickle this topic provocatively. You agree “Agile is Dead”? It’s because you’re murdering it.
I’ve been leading projects since 2002, becoming a full-blown agilist around 2011. Not so long after that, one of the creators of the Agile Manifesto, Dave Thomas proclaimed “Agile is Dead” in his famous 2014 blog and talk. Ever since, I thought, everybody’s doing a Danse Macabre around agility, so let’s use this ghastly theme and its legacy to explain things.
The Dance of Death concerns a few very spiritual topics, such as prayer to free the dead from sin, resurrection of the dead and even creatio ex nihilo (in the sense of meaning of existence). So, to translate this death theme to our ways of working, perhaps we should start with the last: to explain why we are here.
Any normal business wants to disrupt their way of working in order to achieve one or more of the classic business goals:
If you cannot identify your goal fitting to these four, you should immediately stop your transformation because you’re doing it just for the change itself, without a tangible business purpose. And then we cannot talk about agility as you’re not a customer in need.
However, if either of the above four aspects applies to your business, you should then know why you want “Agile”? (By the way, the capitalization of this word will pretty soon go away when you start to practice. As in, it’s an adjective and as such spelled lowercase.) So, why? Ideally,
But if you’re so clear in what you want and why you want it, how come you’re still in agony? As I experienced, there are four basic reasons why teams struggle with agility.
So to be fair, poor agility is agonizing because you’re slaughtering it. Stop the torture, and you’ll be friends.
How to be friends? A lot of posts are talking about rules and laws, and we seem to like these when they come in threes. So, my “3 Laws of Agility”?
Finally, about a tech camp being forced online. It’s not a bad thing after all. Actually fitting the tech enablement bit above. Once we’re forced to be locked away, we start talking to each other more, using smarter collaborative techniques, less words, more meaning. It’s a resurrection in a way.
So, if you want to resurrect it, accept that agile is an adjective. Just as dead is. Both can be made nouns, but that’s very scary and contagious. Don’t be a zombie, choose life.
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