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Are You Doing Agile or Being Agile?

 

Are you doing agile or being agile? What's the difference you ask? Well, quite a lot.

Let's start with a story:

I have a seed, it is the heart of my tree. As the caretaker, I plant and water my tree. My tree grows roots that provide nourishment. As my tree grows the trunk provides strength. As the tree matures, it develops many branches and leaves. Now standing in front of me is a beautiful tree that is self-sustaining. I need to provide little care once it is full grown. Storms may come and break some branches and it may need some pruning occasionally, but the roots run deep and provide nourishment and trunk provides support for the tree to heal and continue to grow.

Now comes along a neighbor who loves the tree and decides he wants a tree just like it. He cuts some branches and plants them in his yard. He is impressed, and thinks now I have a beautiful tree too. However, after a few days, the tree withers and is no longer recognizable. The neighbor is upset and blames the withered tree branches on the tree itself. It must be the tree, he says. He then proceeds to find a new tree to cut some branches off and plant.

Now let's replace the words a little:

I have an agile vision, it is the heart of my agile team. As the iteration manager, I coach and mentor my team. My team has agile values that provide nourishment. As my team grows the agile principles provides strength. As the team matures, it adopts many agile practices and methods. Now standing in front of me is a beautiful agile team that is self-sustaining. I need to provide little care once it is high performing. Organizational changes may come and break some practices and the team may need some additional coaching occasionally, but the agile values run deep and provide nourishment and agile principles provides support for the team to adapt and continue to improve.

Now comes along a manager who loves the agile team and decides he wants an agile team with same results. He adopts some agile practices and pushes them in his organization. He is impressed, and thinks now I have a beautiful agile team too. However, after a few days (weeks/months), the agile team withers and results are not as expected. The manager is upset and blames the poor results on the agile team itself. It must be agile, he says. He then proceeds to find a new team (methodology) to borrow some practices from and push onto his organization.

Does this sound familiar? How many times have you seen the new methodology "flavor of the month" pushed onto your organization?  Taking practices in absence of the core values and principles is like cutting branches from a living tree.  In absence of nourishment and support, all you have are dead branches. It won’t last long and causes frustration.

So I ask you again, are you doing agile (planting dead branches) or being agile (creating self-sustaining living trees)?

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