What will 2012 bring?

I’m not a big fan of predictions, but I was asked to make some comments about what I think 2012 will bring for the agile community. This is what I think…

I think 2012 will see a potential backlash against agile, as more large companies try it and fail.

I think this will create more scepticism about agile success stories and will cause agile enthusiasts to try to back away from the term agile and instead talk about agile in different terms. I can see signs of this already and I believe it will be magnified next year.

Having said that, I also think the challenges that most businesses face today – such as the rapid pace of change, economic uncertainty, consumerisation of IT – mean that more and more businesses will need to act decisively to transform their cultures and practices. They will need to make their companies faster to market, more innovative, more adaptive, and more responsive to customer needs.

This even greater need for business agility and competitive advantage will continue to drive agile methods into the mainstream, moving further into large corporates and government, as well as the more natural place of media and technology companies.

Concepts like Continuous Delivery, Adaptive Leadership, Lean Startup and Beyond Budgeting will begin to elevate agile methods to the next level, where agile is a means to an end, and the real goal is to accelerate the creation of business value.


5 Responses to “What will 2012 bring?”

  1. Derek says:

    Very interesting post! I’ve already begun to start to see the more aggressive drive for culture change companies are adopting.

  2. The first time I tried to implement agile techniques in a company we made a big thing of it and failed. The failure was mainly down to the business saying ‘We don’t “do” agile!”. So we implemented those techniques we could in the IT department calling them by their individual names (TDD, Pair Programming, Continuous Integration, Kanban, etc) and never mentioned agile again. The business loved what we’d done and started using things like Kanban themselves.

    I’ve tried not to use the word agile in every company where I’ve implemented agile techniques since then and it works much better. I think this is because no one understands what becoming agile means until they’ve succeeded in implementing a number of agile techniques themselves.

    My preferred way of working is to implement a technique, prove that it works, gain some trust, implement another technique and so on.

  3. David Lewis says:

    I think you are probably right, but it is because many large corporates are not prepared to change their cultures, that they perceive Agile to have failed. They never were Agile.

    They bought in to simple Agile practices, like Scrum, but never to the underlying principles. It’s not the “What”, but more about the “Why”. You don’t “Do” Agile, you “Are” Agile.

    I see little evidence many large enterprises can comfortably cope with the continuous improvement model at the core of Agile & Lean thinking. They want processes & procedures that they can follow, often blindly. Hence the traditional waterfall Project based mentality that has served, for better or worse, for the last 50years.

    The danger I see is many large organisations will seek to outsource their IT functions, simply because they don’t want to make that internal culture change. They want the agility but don’t want to be Agile. So they’ll try to ship out all the messy bits to an external supplier. The jury’s out whether they will be savvy enough to draft suitably “Agile” contracts or if they will revert to traditional fixed price project based contracts as before.

  4. Ben Linders says:

    When larger companies implement Agile, they need some changes for agile to work and deliver result (unless they already have an agile culture and values). They need to change the way they collaborate and communicate and how they manage and reward their employees. There’s little support in the agile methods on how to implement this. I’ve used the People CMM (supporting model for a.o. the CMMI) to support the implementation of agile. A short article decribing this is available on my blog, at http://www.benlinders.com/2010/implementing-agile-with-the-people-cmm/

  5. I agree. In some cases we may see that companies come to the conclusion that ‘agile’ has failed in their company. Have they really been ‘agile’ or did they just believe they were ‘agile’? In principle, though, I believe the whole train will not slow down but may actually increase speed. “Who said Elephants can’t dance?” IBM has demonstrated that even at their massive size they are not only able but required to adapt, to be agile. Has this requirement disappeared? I believe the ability to quickly adapt to an ever-changing environment has not disappeared. Even if one day the term ‘agile’ won’t be used any more because it is out of fashion by then, company still have to evolve and adapt to stay in business. Although I kind of like the term ‘agile’ in the end I don’t care what sticker we put on the underlying principles. I continue to believe that there are two types of companies: The fast ones and the dead ones. And fast means adaptive or ‘agile’ as we call it these days. With that said here is to an even more exciting year 2012! Cheers!

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