I have yet to observe a process that wouldn’t benefit from a dash of Agile. Or why not a really healthy dose. From being frowned upon by many in the late 1990:s, it has become mainstream to realize that there’s something really important in the agile message. Whole companies are run with agile values at the core. Like IKEA. Like H&M. (Yeah, I’m from Sweden.) Or Toyota (Lean is very, very similar to agile. I’d say that at the core it’s the same thing.)
While more and more people are trying to relate to the concept of agile, we also run the risk that the meaning is devalued and kidnapped. It’s highest fashion to label yourself Agile. There are several problems with that. If you fool yourself you run the risk of not going at your full potential. Or if it’s just “play pretend” you risk really fooling others and they might not realize for a long while that they could have ran so much faster. And of course, false agile also risks giving the “movement” a bad name it truly doesn’t deserve.
You find lots of people that say they are agile. Yet, when you probe it some it’s clear that it seems to have totally different meaning to many. Like it didn’t matter. But it does matter! Agile is a stance, an attitude, a philosophy, a core value even. It’s something you must comprehend. Something you must give some time to soak your being. Something you must truly believe in before you have the right to use the label. I’m totally sick of hearing people excuse shortsighted moves with a sloppy “we are agile”. That’s wrong in so many ways. Agile is all, 100%, totally and utterly about sustainability, about the long term.
All “casual” agilists out there should be forced to really try an agile process. Why not Scrum? Of course, running Scrum doesn’t make you agile. But you can’t give Scrum a real chance without starting to get an idea about what the concept of agile is about. Then hopefully the casuals will be humble enough to first stop calling themselves agile and then working hard with themselves and their views to really earn the label.
Or maybe they’ll find that it’s not for them. I don’t think agile leaves many people indifferent (given that they given it some thought and started to grasp it). Rather, you either love it or hate it. When the agile values become clear to you there are no longer any gray areas. If you have a strong belief in your fellow human beings you’re likely to find agile being your thing. At the very core of agile there is this strong conviction that most people really want and can contribute. In agile land there’s no room for cynics.
Does your organization want the agile label? Then start with removing all processes that are in place for monitoring that people contribute or are doing their jobs. Install mechanism that make it clear to people what’s expected of them and what they can expect from others. Make each and every process fully transparent. Demand authenticity from everyone, including yourself. Make sure you learn from experience, good, bad, in-between. Yours and others. Don’t save any effort, whatsoever, to enable communication. And keep asking yourself, every day, every breathing moment. Are there some remains, somewhere, of your non-agile past? Hunt them down. Remove them! Ban phrases like “that’s not how we usually do it” and “we’ve already tried that”.