Blog Series - The State of Agile
An eclectic group of authors from a wide range of backgrounds are providing their thoughts on how Agile has changed and where it is headed. The initial list of invited and confirmed contributors is:
Each contributor is asked to answer the following questions:
- Your (author) background?
- How Agile has changed (from authors perspective) in terms of methods, philosophies, ideologies, pragmatic applications, etc.?
- Where is Agile going (in the future)?
Here are thoughts from some of the initial contributors:
The important thing to remember is that there is so much more to draw on than the Agile family of methods. There is Improv, Artful Making, CAS, Games Theory, Integral and Coactive Coaching, NLP, Dan Pink’s Motivation 3.0, the work of Ricardo Semler, Seth Godin, <add your favorite writer>, the inspirational ideas from so many TED Talks, and much more. The Agile community, the Agile-rooted ideas are a very small part of a whole movement taking place in the world of knowledge work. We are marching, or perhaps more accurately slipping and sliding towards a new paradigm. Agile is part of a ripple that when combined with other ideas and practices will collectively become a tidal wave of change.
So how do I see Agile? I see it as one stepping stone (a particularly beautiful one) on a great journey towards a business world that is more caring, loving, respectful and altogether more joyous. Agile will meld into the ideas of many other movements, and we’ll all move forward towards the greater goal, seeking similarities and finding ways to collaborate, innovate and reconceive the way we work.
It’s called mastery-based learning and the paradox of the certification. What is the goal? Are we trying to discover better ways to deliver value to our customers or are we just trying to get a piece of paper and a few extra letters after our names? Some are pursuing the mastery of performance-based objectives versus learning-based objectives (ie. getting a passing score on a certification exam versus being a good manager or leader).
I will conclude in saying, in order for the Agile community to continue to grow and keep true to the principles of the Agile Manifesto, certification programs should truly add value and assess the skill set as well as knowledge of the individual
Agile software development is a path to return our profession to its roots – working closely and collaboratively with our customers to build target-on high-value products just-in-time
Our world has become very crowded, complex and interdependent. The technologies and insights we have are often beyond our abilities to act on them. Just as Toyota and lean overcame the more simplistic General Motors, the organizations that can adapt to complexity and create ways and products that allow us to be agile will succeed and the others will wither. I work with the organizations and people who vote for agility, and who want to work in the midst of complexity.
What Agile software development is in my mind: a toolkit for managers to better communicate, give feedback to the real teams share around problems. For individuals like myself who have been introduced to Agile through different ways, it is easy to see the value of what Agile development methodologies can bring to a team.
A method must not become a repository to be applied to the letter with an application domain specific, and Agile should not go in that direction. Agile should continue to be an inclusive approach, which is built of good practices of each business to bring real added value.
Josh Nankeivel posted a video blog entry in which he uses a mindmap to express his thoughts on the evolution of Agile beyond just software development, the emergence of dogma and future trends.
What is the state of agile, and where is it headed?
Current Velocity of Learning
I believe we have reached the limits of what a larger-sized purely self-organizing community can do. The fissures are nothing more than evidence of a need to subdivide (and thrive) or atrophy and die a slow death. The fissures include the SA-Scrum.org split, the rise of Kanban as a valid alternative lifestyle, and the emergence of various flavors of certification including Agile Skills Project, ICAgile, etc. These in my view are all symptoms of a larger malady, namely: "limits on growth"...in learning.
The headless, amorphous, chaotic self-organizing system is indeed self-organizing into smaller clans and tribes capable of cohesion via a shared value system. The reality is the the Agile community has become huge, and there is very little to bind us short of the Agile Manifesto. The smaller clans that are forming are in fact executing on self-organization. Each clan has shared beliefs and associated values.
The main force that is driving the devolution/evolution is a watered-down sense of what binds us together. Absent that glue, we seek clarity of purpose and intent in smaller groups with more cohesion. Things to watch for include an increase in "scouting" at the frontier, an even more diverse set of clans, and a sudden awareness that the previous leaders such as Jeff Sutherland, Ken Schwaber, Mike Cohn etc are now "tribal elders" in the widest sense of the term. This new development of awareness of tribal elders is a first for our community and is a signpost of maturity through a community-level life stage.
We in Boston hold an annual GIVE THANKS FOR SCRUM event on November, formally honoring the two tribal elders named "Jeff Sutherland" and "Ken Schwaber". These individuals and others like them occupy very important roles in Agile civilization and culture. They have both written and participated in shaping our collective story.