Why I’m Not Passionate About Agile

WRITTEN BY Jeff Howey

Passionate About Agile

I’ve worked for LeadingAgile for the better part of four years.  Did you hear that? The word is even in the name of the company that pays me.  Agile.  It used to matter to me, but now that  I’ve been an Agile practitioner for almost 15 years—I’m not even really that passionate about it.

I’m sure by the time this is published I will have had to reassure my executive team and peers that they don’t need to worry. However, don’t get me wrong. Agile techniques and practices are about the only tools I would ever use in my consulting engagements. Agile practices, Agile program management, and Lean portfolio management are some of the best tools available for managing delivery systems.

AGILE IS MERELY A TOOL

But that’s my point.  Agile is a tool.  It’s a set of practices, guidelines, ceremonies, artifacts, and concepts.  There are as many ways to do Agile planning as I have fingers and toes—maybe more.

I’m as passionate about Agile as I am about the dozen or so screwdrivers hanging on the wall in my basement right now.

Great tools.  Necessary to have around.  Useful in all kinds of settings for purposes they were intended, like assembling a DIY bookcase or opening a paint can. And, even a few creative purposes like opening a wine bottle when the cork is broken.

Agile is useful, even necessary, in today’s world.  If you’re looking for improved processes to manage your overall delivery ecosystem, then Agile should be your tool of choice.

Instead of being passionate about Agile, let’s get excited about change instead.

So, what do I care about these days?  I care about change.  I would like you to use Agile as a tool  to facilitate that change, and if you work with me; you will. But, using Agile without changing the way you work, think, and interact seems a bit pointless to me.

What I care about, and I suspect you do too, is seeing the kind of change that improves outcomes and, frankly, quality of life.

More than mere change, even, I care about Transformation.

GET EXCITED BY TRANSFORMATION

How do you think about Transformation?  Is it radical change?  Is it measured and incremental?  Does it mean everything changes?

Here’s how I think about Transformation. First of all, it’s not the desired outcome.

Change for the sake of change is called insanity, not Transformation.

In fact, I believe every client, and perhaps every team, has a different desired outcome.  Sometimes it’s to be more competitive in the market they serve.  For some, it’s to invent ways to serve or even create new markets.  For others, it’s about controlling the costs associated with running their current business.  Your outcome is unique.  But each of these outcomes typically requires Transformation to achieve.

I see Transformation as the motion, the movement—the journey—from the starting point to the point where you finish and then move past into something better.  It should be no surprise that, oftentimes, the finish point is not always precisely where we thought it would be when the journey began.  And, if it isn’t better, it isn’t the end.  The end point will always be better.

How I approach Transformation as part of my consulting work is not through teaching how to do the best daily stand-up or create the best product roadmap; it’s through helping you create and sustain the motion necessary to inspire and motivate the individuals in your ecosystem to work together differently. Granted, awesome daily stand-ups and outstanding product roadmaps are critical tools.

But, what gets me excited and passionate is working with you to create, and be successful leading, an exciting, unifying, and meaningful journey toward your something better.

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