onsdag 23 november 2016

Do-be-do-be-do: Do and become!

"Agile" are so many things. From an outsider's perspective it is what some organizations and other collaborations are: They respond quickly as the society changes, they are fast to sense people's needs and invent a way of meeting them, and they seem to learn and evolve continuously. Together. Like a super-competent individual with a thousand arms and legs and eyes and ears and mouths.

So agile is definitely something you, as a group of people, can be together.

You get curious. You wonder what magic that lies behind all this. So you walk closer and tries to find things that you can imitate and copy. And you really see a lot of things.

People working in groups. Moving stickers on a wall. Organizing their decision making in a certain way. Handling budgets and projects in ways that you may be unaccustomed to, even removing them altogether and still maintain control. And you read descriptions of collections of things that you can do in your organization: SAFe, Scrum, XP, LeSS, DaD...

It seems like agile is something you can do.

So you tell people that this is what they should do. Do like this. Use this template. Standardize on this agile method. And you track them to see if they are doing as they are told.

But you notice that not all groups in the organization get the same result out of the things they do. Some seem to "get" it, and some don't. And among the groups that don't get it you see groups where they have deviated from the things you told them. So you correct them. No wonder you don't get the right results if people don't do as they are told!

But among the groups that seem to get it there are also groups that deviate from the method as it has been presented to them. They can even present even better result than groups that follow the method. So it seems like the magic doesn't reside within the methods, even if the methods play a crucial role for enabling agility.

The answer is that agile also is something that you think, feel and value. It is a mindset and a set of values. When we apply the methods, we uncover hidden things in our collaboration that blocks agility. The wisdom lies in seeing this when it happens and selecting the right tool from the toolboxes to handle it with.

That wisdom comes from an agile mindset and agile values. The groups that eventually develops agility from experimenting with agile methods all share a set of foundational values. The others typically don't.

As Simon Powers points out: the mindset is not easily seen, but it is definitely the factor that brings the most effect to your path to agility. It has the least visibility but the largest power.

So you can definitely become agile by doing agile, but it will not happen unless you also nurture the values so you start to think agile. That will bring understanding to the practice, and wisdom for people to select those agile tools that will benefit the whole.

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