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Two Faces of Agile

by Srinivas Saripalli

‘Two Faces of Agile’ – I’ve had this piece of paper in my bag for six months. In one of ‘those’ conference calls, I drew this. You know, the one when someone is talking and you’re not sure why you’re listening

Two Faces of Agile

I was trying to figure out an easy method to explain how different Agile adoption approaches may go astray.

What does this scribbling show?

The scribble is simply saying that you shouldn’t embrace frameworks without a manifesto or ideals. Stepping into the Agile manifesto declarations and principles will certainly lead to Agile framework practises. It seems obvious, but how many of us work in teams or organisations that just look at one side of the picture?

As a coach, I’ve seen it again and time again. If the organisation does not turn to larger principles, behaviours, and culture to support the framework adoption, it is essentially a Scrum-But problem.

Let’s take a deeper look.

The Two Faces of Agile

The manifesto is on the left, with its ideals guiding behaviour and culture. I labelled it ‘legacy.’ I meant established software development organisations that are failing because they are not looking at principles, culture, and behaviour to improve performance. They may be using Agile techniques from the frameworks, but without a change in behaviour, they will revert to the old ways of working with new language. We’ve all been there.

On the right are the frameworks. Similarly, I wrote “new”. I meant new projects, programmes, or, in the best case scenario, completely new organisations that use Agile frameworks to deal with change and uncertainty. Although another prevalent technique, the objective will quickly split from the business plan if the benefits of Agile are not understood.

Good Read: Embracing Agile: Agile Is More Than Sprinting

The huge box at the bottom says it all: Control.

Contrast Control with Agile. I hope we’ve all seen through the Agile misconceptions and realised that the concepts and frameworks promise more control than we’re used to. So, to me, the necessity for control does not negate Agile.

Whatever the reason for the transition, whether it is to improve quality or reduce time to market, or simply because Agile is the hottest thing right now, it is a positive development. I love anything that encourages progress and self-reflection.

To support this, measure should be in a much larger box. Learn only through measuring. Empiricism and learning via measurement can only enhance our organisations and teams and allow them to make informed judgments on principles, behaviours, and frameworks in the future.

It looks like a decision matrix to me. If you’re on one side, ask yourself: What are we missing? What can we do? Then what?

Good Read: Building Trust

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