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* * *    CHANGING THE WAY WE WORK    * * *

During the last few decades, we have seen several management fads such as T-Groups, Matrix Organizations, Consensus Management, Enterprise Resource Planning, Management by Objectives and One-Minute Management.

Agile is not another fad. Its essence –principles and values– have remained valid over time and its value and effectiveness have been proved over and over again -when the right things are done, at the right time, for the right purpose.

Although a number of factors contributed with its longevity and even strengthened the Agile movement as a whole, there is one that most of us believe has been key: Agile is not a program to be inflicted on nor a methodology to be sold to teams and organizations.

Agile is an exploration of aspects of how people work together, how they might better work together, and how they would choose to work together if asked and given a chance.

When applied correctly,

  • It works in the corner of an organization or in the company as a whole.
  • It involves everyone in the organization –from the top to the bottom.
  • It applies to software development and IT departments, legal, marketing, finance, human resources and many more.

First, Agile is a way of treating everyone as respected adults and professionals rather than children or lawbreakers. It recognizes that command and control cultures and micromanaging environments hinder high performance.

Second, it brings the customer as early as possible into the process to provide meaningful feedback –whoever the customer is.

Third, it asks for ideas, tries them out and adjusts as needed. It understands that tension can be healthy, psychological safety is a must and some types of failure provide opportunities to build upon.

And fourth, it allows people to be more creative, teams to deliver faster, and organizations to be more effective.

Agile has become an extraordinary way to change behaviors and shape state-of-the-art organizational cultures. Its power has been proven across industries around the world, from three-people startups to organizations with hundreds of employees.

However, as happens with many successful proposals and initiatives, it has been abused in different ways and a number of misunderstandings have reached the surface.

One reason for those misunderstandings might be the specific time when the Agile Manifesto was written as well as its original purpose. Another reason might be the way Agile practices have grown: they have become unnecessarily complex, topsy-turvy. One more might be a thirst of some consulting companies for selling prescriptive recipes and step-by-step solutions.

In any case, phrases such as “implementing the Agile roadmap,” “reaching the top of an Agile Maturity Model,” “buying Agile” through frameworks, methodologies or tools, or “establishing the Agile transformation plan” became part of the chaotic vocabulary. Certainly, they are far from the ultimate goal –one that would foster a forward-thinking culture that brings outstanding results.

We believe that one way to obtain sound judgment is through real stories. Personal experiences and epiphanies of seasoned Agilists offer unique perspectives, fresh ideas and powerful insights.

That is what we strive for at agile-thoughts!

Ricardo Abella

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