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Agile Fluency Project

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The Bad News

The Bad News

To the horizon and beyond... Photo by Diana Larsen.

Hi everyone, I’m here to deliver bad news.

In spite of what many of us might prefer to be true, hard truths are at play in the world of software development. One troubling reality concerns how we expect teams, leaders, and departments to adapt to an Agile approach.

To reap the benefits of Agile you won’t find any easily identifiable switches to flip, no instant transformations, no immediate “make it so” moments, associated with your organization’s efforts toward business agility and agile software development. If someone tells you, “Follow these few steps and you can have agile your way,” they mislead. (Perhaps well-intentioned, but it’s still not how it goes.)

This “transition” never gets to “We’ve transitioned. What’s next?”

This “transition” never gets to “We’ve transitioned. What’s next?” Industrial Logic founder, Joshua Kerivesky, uses a definition of Agile as “quick, easy, grace.” That definition describes a way of being, not an accomplished change of state. It’s a journey of a thousand miles that begins with one step (sure!) then keeps adding more miles. There is no destination. To quote Gertrude Stein, “There is no there, there.” Every time you resolve a challenge or find an answer to a question, new questions and challenges appear.

You may approach it as “Agile Change Management,” “Agile Transformation,” “Agile Transition,” “Agile Adoption,” or a special term of local jargon. Under any name, your organization cannot go from “current state needs improvement” to “fully desired success” in a single step, or even a few simple steps. Any new behavior, for individuals or groups, takes practice before it delivers results. Take your hand away from the switch. It’s not going to be that easy to find the light. That’s life.

Getting better and better in an unending expedition of iterative learning and application

Instead, you will embark on an evolution to the agile that’s right for you. Your organization will evolve from how you do things now through continuous learning and improvement to better, more effective ways of achieving your goals. Without end. An Agile approach means getting better and better in an unending expedition of iterative learning and application. It can be a joyful journey of challenge and satisfaction in achievement. Or a sad, uncomfortable grind, depending on how you engage. Your choice. At times, for leaders, it will seem like a sojourn in a very strange land where you don’t know the language and new customs emerge all the time.

In real life there are difficult times and joyful ones. If you approach this quest for agility with realistic expectations, amazing outcomes are yours. How does that happen? You’ll devote time, dedication, and attention; you’ll invest wisely in enabling teams and leaders; and you can expect to see and celebrate increments of progress. The incremental payoffs along the way can be well worth embarking on this odyssey.

We think the Agile Fluency Suite offers a useful guidebook toward unrolling outcomes and benefits your business will value. Using the Agile Fluency Suite materials, licensed facilitator coaches can minimize your wandering and clarify the route ahead. Our model won’t show you the end state. Nothing will. (I’m here to deliver bad news, remember?) Let go of the idea that there IS an end…and everyone will be happier. No end. No bad news. Rather you will have a satisfying, never-ending journey. And, isn’t that worth a lot?

Further resources:

Derby, Esther. 7 Rules for Positive, Productive Change.

Eoyang, Glenda and Royce Holladay. Adaptive Action: Leveraging Uncertainty in Your Organization.

Kerievsky, Joshua. “The Role of Speed and Grace in Being Agile.”

Larsen, Diana and James Shore. Agile Fluency Model: A Brief Guide to Success with Agile. eBook