Is Agile just a buzzword?
For too many, Agile has become a buzzword and an industry. Lots of organizations have adopted Agile (and by that, I mean they have adopted the notion that they are Agile, or feel the need to say that they are.) There is a tremendous amount of money out there to help organizations become Agile and even to “certify” that you have done so. As this industry has become more prominent, I think we have lost the point.
My role is not to succeed at just “being Agile,” but to get better at delivering.
Agile is a mindset, not a process
We have put far too much emphasis on “being Agile,” when what we should be doing is to figure out how to add more agility into how we do things, whether it’s software development or marketing, or frankly, anything. Agile has always been more of a mindset than a process, but with the multitude of methodologies out there, it’s easy to forget how simple the foundation was: just take a look at the Manifesto for Agile Software Development and Principles behind the Agile Manifesto.
Agile at Lingotek
At Lingotek, my role is not to help the teams succeed at “being Agile,” or frankly, to help them improve following any process, but rather to help them get better at delivering. I don’t tell them how, or prescribe a way for them to do that. I help them navigate the process of figuring that out for themselves.
That doesn’t mean that I do not make use of an arsenal of tried and true practices or that I don’t think that starting with an “established” methodology is a good idea. It just means that I acknowledge that there isn’t just one way to make things work.
This approach typically starts off feeling alien to the software teams that I have introduced agility to. There are always some that just want to be told how to do things. There are often others that feel strongly that Agile just won’t work if you “break the rules.”
Lingotek was different. Our team took to it right away. They embraced (and continue to embrace) the volatility inherent in being willing to challenge norms and try new things. We don’t identify ourselves as “being Agile” (who cares?), but we embrace agility in our quest to build great software that solves real-world problems for our customers. For us it looks like this:
What we make over how we make it.
That is, while there is value in the item on the right, at Lingotek we value the item on the left more.
Back to basics
There is no recipe for “being Agile.” Sure, there are plenty of methodologies that present a recipe you can follow, but that doesn’t make you Agile. You can also do something that doesn’t look anything like what others do and be really, really Agile. Over the next few weeks and months, I will continue to share my thoughts on agility and how you might be able to leverage it to improve your own ability to deliver.
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