Agile: organization, movement, or philosophy?

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I referred to Agile today as a philosophy in a conversation with other Agile coaches.  I got a little push back.  So it made me think - is that the right word for the thing that has resulted from the Agile Manifesto

No.  I may want it to be a philosophy, and it may be my personal philosophy.  But it is not a philosophy that is recognized by the general population.  Nor even a philosophy as recognized by the IT industry nor software developers.

It is a movement.  Or is it a method of working?  I'm not sure - what's the difference? I believe that Scrum is a method of working, while I believe that Agile is greater than just being Scrum-y, or turning all the dials to 11 (XP).

However, if Agile were to marry Lean, then I think the union would have a great shot at becoming a philosophy.

So in my philosophy I try to marry the two movements and I think it makes for a philosophy.  One that has the capability to evolve via Double Loop Learning.  A philosophy should be capable of challenging it's own truth and modifying the goal to know the truth.  So in the manifesto the goal is to develop working software, along with all the necessary stuff like teams, and server farms required to deliver the software.  But is that the truth?  Is that the value stream result?  No. 

The ultimate goal of working software is to delight customers.  It is delighted customers that purchase the software.  Software has no real value until a customer chooses to purchase it or the device the software is embedded within.  Like the DVD player that really needs a better UX (no delighted customer here - no recommendation for that DVD player to my twitter friends).  A case in point is the eco-system that Apple has created with the iOS devices and the App Store.  Billions of dollars have not changed hands because of lists of acceptance criteria that have been met for thousands of feature sets.  Oh-no, it is because delighted customers have raved at the local watering hole that this app is awesome.

So if your company is looking to Agile to increase speed to market, or to double revenue in 5 years, or to increase quality while decreasing cost - then you are missing the movement.  And you will not make your transformation to Agile stick.

To make that Agile Transformation stick into the DNA of your organization you will have to promote the movement to a philosophy within your organization.  Then and only then will the movement (transformation) become capable of surviving the inevitable change of leadership and staff that will snuff out a movement.

My quest is to find the techniques that transform a movement into a philosophy.  But I need help.

Organization vs. movement vs. philosophy

An organization uses structure and resources and power to make things happen. Organizations hire people, issue policies, buy things, erect buildings, earn market share and get things done. Your company is probably an organization.
A movement has an emotional heart. A movement might use an organization, but it can replace systems and people if they disappear. Movements are more likely to cause widespread change, and they require leaders, not managers. The internet, it turns out, is a movement, and every time someone tries to own it, they fail.
A philosophy can survive things that might wipe out a movement and that would decimate an organization. A philosophy can skip a generation or two. It is often interpreted, and is more likely to break into autonomous groups, to morph and split and then reunite. Industrialism was a philosophy.
The trouble kicks in when you think you have one and you actually have the other.

 

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