In recent years my passions have migrated toward agile principles and values as evidenced not only by the client work I have been taking on, but also the work I have been doing at the local and national level with the Agile Leadership Network. My interests have always been in how teams work most effectively, so a progression toward agility is only natural.
It is important to recognize that agility in of itself is not a goal, or at least not a productive one. The goal is for teams and organizations to deliver business value in the most effective way possible. Agility is often the path toward that goal. Key to that is how we choose to form and engage teams to do work. We need to focus less on directing teams to complete pre-defined, fixed sets of work by specific dates, and focus more on unleashing teams to solve the business problems of the day.
A change in practices alone won’t do that; culture change is needed as well. A change toward a leadership culture that frees teams to experiment and learn; an organizational culture that sets clearly understood business objectives, goals and priorities; a superseding culture that values openness and transparency. The journey of agile adoption is about finding the right balance between process and culture. That is a continual evolution and everyone’s journey is going to be a bit different.
Agile practices are well known and widely used in the software development domain today. Our challenge now is how to broaden that to whole organizations and enterprises. Specific practices often don’t transfer from one problem domain to another, but the principles and values behind them do. I think of agility first and foremost as a framework of principles and values; coupled with any of a number of practice sets. For a new problem domain, we simply need to discover and evolve that the set of practices that best enable the principled, value based behavior we desire. That of course is not so simple.