A rose by any other name would smell as sweet

Jul 4, 2024 | AgileAus, Highlights

Over the years, there has been a lot of debate over big A Agile and small a Agile. And don’t get me started on navigating the different flavours of Agile! I reckon whether you are implementing Agile or trying to be agile, the best possible outcome for us as individuals is more meaningful work. Through the Agile northstar of delivering value to customers, we are given our levers to autonomy, mastery and purpose.
My Agile journey started over 15 years ago. My team and I were working with Thoughtworks, who were crazy about Agile then. This was about seven years after the Agile Manifesto was signed. Thoughtworks wanted to help big companies that were trying to deliver faster and better products as the world was going digital and many industries were getting disrupted, such as banking and media companies.

We were also working in the startup space. The startups were trying to deliver products that people would love, and an agile mindset was pretty innate in these companies. So, I found it interesting that Agile was being considered and taken up by so many large organisations and was also in the DNA of the startups.

So, I took a deep-dive into Agile.

And I was blown away by the ‘vibe’ of the thing!

I liked the emphasis Agile placed on people—trusting individuals to get the job done! This is completely common sense – but in how many companies do we see people forgetting how fundamental trust is to getting the job done?

I also was comforted by the (my now favourite) line of the Agile Manifesto: Simplicity – the art of maximizing the amount of work not done – is essential. The need to continually improve to find a way to do things simply, to cut down the unnecessary work, the waste and find the simplest way to deliver value to the customer.

I think this is the challenge that being agile puts at the centre of our work—always thinking that there must be a better way, always moving toward a better way of working, which can be pretty exhausting sometimes!

This goal to find a better way of working is really unlocked for me by Agile’s belief in the small. Agile is built on the small – the small team – working together, hopefully multidisciplinary, playing to each other’s strengths. It is built on the small task – the Kanban board, the sticky note, representing the small task that needs to be done. And it is built on the small iteration, the viable product that can be shipped, improved upon in small steps over time.

Being agile is a way for us to respond to change — in many cases, to lead change.

As our only constant is change, the Agile value – Responding to Change over following a plan was written for our times! Being agile is a way for us to respond to change — in many cases, to lead change – one step at a time. As J.C. Maxwell said, “The future belongs to the curious. The ones who are not afraid to try it, explore it, poke at it, question it and turn it inside out.”

Steve Denning declared in a recent article Why The World’s Most Valuable Firms Are So Agile that “although Agile methodologies can be perceived as problematic, the world’s most valuable and fastest growing firms are demonstrating on a daily basis that Agile mindsets and principles are enjoying astonishing success.”

In a world full of frameworks, jargon and kool-aid it’s good to remember that the vibe of Agile is found in our minds – and in our hearts. It is a mindset to find better ways of working – for us, and those we work with. Individuals and organisations with an agile mindset, values and culture have the ability to thrive and adapt no matter what the future holds.

AgileAus24 is being held on 12-13 August 2024 in Melbourne. There are so many Vibey talks I am looking forward to including – Quinton Quartel‘s keynote on Fast Agile; Julia Steel on The importance of thinking and being Agile not just doing it; Nick Roder and his nephew Caidyrn Roder on Paramedicine – like agility – is a team sport. You can find out more and register at agileaustralia.com.au/2024/

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