Though I have spent more than a decade helping others find what it means to be Agile in their context, it has never been religious for me. I have always viewed the Agile Manifesto as a series of recommendations in a snapshot in time in which the software industry was being disrupted.
These recommendations could be applied to help the organizations in which the signatories worked remain competitive in a rapidly changing world. The idea of #BecomingAgile was not view these statements and principles as binary, but to consider how the recommendations may best be applied to context in the pursuit of a better way of working in the journey to greater customer satisfaction and employee engagement.
Wherever an organization started was the right place for them. However the organization could best apply the principles to context was right for them at that time. The world has changed dramatically since 2001, but the problems facing business are the same as what was faced by the signatories of the manifesto as that time. Disruption in business is everywhere and if organizations do not change the way they approach strategy, products, customers, and people they will cease to exist. The problems may be different, but the solutions are the same. When we apply the manifesto to 2020 context, we can all be better by embracing the manifesto and principles to help our organizations thrive in the post-digital economy.
There are many who violently disagree with me. There are many who view Agility as an absolute. They, as I, are entitled to their opinion. I do my best to root my opinions in philosophy. To best understand my perspective, I leave you with the following words from Epictetus and an interpretation from Ryan Holiday. Your perspective is your own. This perspective is simply my viewpoint.
"Show me someone sick and happy, in danger and happy, dying and happy, exiled and happy, disgraced and happy. Show me! By God, how much I'd like to see a Stoic. But since you can't show me someone that perfectly formed, at least show me someone actively forming themselves so, inclined in this way...Show me!"
- Epictetus, Discourses, 2.19.4-25a, 28
Instead of seeing philosophy as an end to which one aspires, see it as something one applies. Not occasionally, but over the course of a life - making incremental progress along the way. Sustained execution, not shapeless epiphanies. Epictetus loved to shake his students out of their smug satisfaction with their own progress. He wanted to remind them - and now you - of the constant work and serious training needed every day if we are ever to approach that perfect form. It's important for us to remember in our own journey to self-improvement: one never arrives. The sage - the perfect Stoic who behaves perfectly in every situation - is an ideal, not an end.
- Ryan Holiday, The Daily Stoic, 151
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