We have outgrown Agile (long live Agility.)
Thank you (Kent Beck, Mike Beedle, Arie van Bennekum, Alistair Cockburn, Ward Cunningham, Martin Fowler, Robert C. Martin, Steve Mellor, Dave Thomas, James Grenning, Jim Highsmith, Andrew Hunt, Ron Jeffries, Jon Kern, Brian Marick, Ken Schwaber, Jeff Sutherland.) Your thoughts in 2001 were truly the beginning of a business revolution and we will never forget the fact that you were first, you were right, and that you started it all. You were the first, as technologists, to be disrupted by the digital world. No longer did we need a garage full of racks and blades to bring our technology products to market. Small shops were disrupting the entrenched institutions, and you needed to do something about it. Fast. You were the first to recognize the problems that existed were with the system, not the people doing the work. You recognized that traditional operating models were getting in the way of the team’s ability to deliver value fast, and to satisfy the customer. You were the first to recognize that if we just got back to basics: communicating, building trust, and being transparent, we would be able to overcome many of these challenges, satisfy the customer, allow the team to focus on delivering value, and begin to eliminate a ton of waste in the system. You were the group who developed the cultural framework that is Agile. Let me be very clear about that point. The Agile Manifesto helps us understand how we should strive to behave to create a more productive and value-focused work environment. Agile IS NOT a methodology (no matter what Bain and McKinsey may try to sell you.) Agile IS NOT an operating framework. Agile IS NOT something you can hybridize. Agile IS NOT something you can projectize. Agile IS something that you commit to, or you do not. Do or do not, there is not try. (Sorry, not sorry. I just saw Star Wars for the first time last month, so the Yoda quotes are all new to me.) To my admired signatories, what I will say is that the days of Agile purists quoting your words and intent are largely behind us. It is not that your perspectives are less relevant, it is that the perspective and problem have changed. It is no longer just technology that has been disrupted, it is quite literally every sector of business in the world. Agility is a gift to the business community, and we need to seek to find ways to apply your wisdom to all types of business problems. With that, we need to also be Agile in how we view and apply Agility. I am done with people telling me what is and is not Agile. I am tired of the framework wars. I am tired of people thinking that Agile is an “IT thing” because the words in the manifesto say software. As we embark in the post-digital economic age, it is time to recognize a different problem and begin addressing it from the same intent of the manifesto but to expand far beyond software. It is time to embrace Business Agility. THE ORIGINAL TIPPING POINT The tipping point which brought around the famed trip to Snowbird, UT in 2001 was reached when it became apparent that big tech was no longer the responsibility of big tech firms. With IoT, Cloud, and other world-changing technologies on the horizon, it was apparent that customers would no longer be required to deal with the crappy products and services that we were all familiar. Remember any time Microsoft would release a new version of Windows? Remember how painful that was? The reformatting? The crashing? We put up with that because we didn’t have a choice. When the manifesto was written, it was because consumers were becoming less tolerant of lame technology, and with the .com age, it was apparent that they didn’t need to. Software development needed to change, and it needed to change fast. Thus, Agile. Fast forward a few decades, and a similar trend is taking hold across all areas of business. Alibaba brought the manufacturing capacity of Asia to anyone with an idea. 3D printing and desktop manufacturing allowed people to prototype products that would have historically cost several hundreds of thousands of dollars to produce for pennies on the dollar. Business now also needs to evolve. Nobody is safe from disruption. Thus, Business Agility.
THE POST-DIGITAL AGE As we enter 2019, it is apparent that there is no such thing as a business that is not a digital business. People mobility, hotels, medicine, even roofing all have digital components. With the understanding that all businesses are first technology companies who happen to also deliver a product or service, the need to integrate and align all functions of a business is not only painfully obvious, it is not optional. Those who do not evolve will cease to exist.
THE NEW TALENT CONTACT Not only do we need to reconsider operations in terms of Agility, we must also rethink how we approach talent. Thankfully, with the brilliant work of people such as Cal Newport and Dan Pink, we already know what it is that we must do. We must empower employees.We must develop employees.We must value employees. We must recognize that our management structures are flawed and that what is needed to lead an organization full of people doing deep technical work is vastly different than when “the book” was written during the industrial revolution. It is time for People Agility.
BUSINESS AGILITY Rebranded, the concepts are the same. Thank you again to the signatories for your amazing work and insight. I hope you don’t mind, but I have taken the liberty to evolve your work. I present my take on the Manifesto for Business Agility:
We are uncovering better ways of delivering value by doing it and helping others do it. Through this work we have come to value:
Individuals and interactions over processes and tools Intuitive solutions over comprehensive documentation Customer collaboration over contract negotiation Responding to change over following a plan
That is, while there is value in the items on the right, we value the items on the left more
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