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Sometimes, Agile Alone Isn’t Enough

Mike Cottmeyer Chief Executive Officer
Reading: Sometimes, Agile Alone Isn’t Enough
So now that we have set a little context, it’s time to start getting down to the business of talking about how to solve the problem. About time huh? This next section is intended to bridge to a high-level description of the solution and then a chapter by chapter breakdown of how the book is going to flow. I’ll try to get the rest of this out either over the weekend or early next week.
Oh, and by the way, if you’ve given me formal feedback on any of this content… and some of you have… that feedback has not made it into any of these upcoming sections. We want to get through finishing the narrative (the one I talked about last time) and then figure out how to deal with the new content in a more holistic manner.
Agile Isn’t Always Enough

This is primarily a book to help managers like Frank. It is directed at the mid-level manager that needs to develop an approach for adopting agile within their part of a larger organization. These are people that want practical guidance on what to do next and how to articulate why what they decided is the next right move. Managers like Frank need a framework to facilitate conversations about what to focus on first and how to build their organizations within a larger organizational context. They need to understand how their decisions impact their teams and how their teams impact the larger enterprise value streams.>div>

This book is geared toward helping these managers incrementally adopt agile and build out a scalable agile enterprise. That said, agile methodologies are primarily intended to work with small teams and not necessarily designed to scale. When it comes to agile in larger enterprises, we find that much of what is prescribed is incongruent with where most organizations find themselves.

The guidance is insufficient to drive significant and meaningful transformation. The gap is just too large and there is no path from here to there. There is a huge difference between doing agile in a large company and a large company that has fully embraced an agile way of doing business. Asking the business to do less and ‘trust the team’ is insufficient guidance for large, complex organizations. Telling large organizations not to be large and complex is a non-starter. Suggesting a scrum-of-scrums as the lone scaling mechanism does not give sufficient guidance to the manager trying to convince a skeptical leadership team.

“A light framework that leaves out things that are sometimes useful can be smart. One that leaves out things that are virtually always useful is ineffective”.

Allan Shalloway, NetObjectives

To effectively build a sustainable agile enterprise, we will need to go beyond some of our standard agile thinking and incorporate learning’s from the methodologies that came before (waterfall and RUP) and those that are coming after (Lean and Kanban). We will draw from luminaries in the fields of manufacturing, team dynamics, organizational design, change management, systems thinking, conversation theory, and organizational learning. Along the way, we’ll need Goldratt’s Theory of Constraints, Covey’s Seven Habits, and Kotter’s Leading Change amongst many others.

I thought the Shalloway quote was cool… it was something that he said over Twitter. Right now I have no idea how to footnote something like that, so I am open to suggestions. I did tell Alan that I was going to use it though ;-) Next up… overview of the value driven agile transformation and then a chapter-by-chapter discussion of the book’s layout.

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