Agile /ˈædʒaɪl/ adj. able to move quickly and easily
[My internal retrospective of the recent XP2012 conference]
Why there are so many consultants, coaches and mentors, who seem to have forgotten what agile really means. I call them the “agile purists”, people who fly around the conferences and talk a lot about following the guidelines to the last letter, using the same format of burn down charts everywhere (regardless of the actual situation) and not accepting anyone without the proper certificate. Rings the bell?
The agile purists are usually easy to recognize as they tend to use the same phrases like ‘distributed agile doesn’t work’, ‘managers are evil’, ‘if you don’t implement agile my way, you are not agile’. I even saw and heard those, who would consciously recommend that you would be better off quitting your job and entering the monastery, just because you work for a corporation and “everybody knows that these are a global evil that will never adopt agile in proper [read: their] way” … oh, wait a minute, REALLY?
What if the world has turned a bit and reality is completely different? What if you need to be able to adopt more than you used to be? What if agile in corporations in not an oxymoron?
Having worked for a corporation that decided to move to agile, I can today fearlessly state that it is possible. It “just” takes the hearts and commitment on many levels of the organization to make this change happen. It is hard, it takes time but it is possible. However you, as agile evangelist, coach, mentor or even a member of the team in a large environment, you need to be able to adopt, change and mainly: THINK. Agile at large scale is completely different than agile in a start up and who is saying the opposite, had most likely never worked in any of those two.
If you want to implement agile at a large scale, the good start is to be open minded and apply your knowledge wisely in the right moment. Beliefs that you can change the whole corporation to fit your bullet-proof-standard-agile-schema proved to be wrong most of the time. Sticking with your memorized set of best practices is no good either- at the end of the day, these are just practices that worked for one team under their particular circumstances. These practices are a good start, but need to be adopted to large scale – simple solutions may not work that easily across multiple time zones (as an example).
To start completely open-minded and be ready to adopt and change in a large corporation is a tough job. No surprise that the “agile purists” don’t even attempt to scratch the surface and rather prefer to talk routinely about the evil-corporations, who don’t understand agile at all.
We adopt agile at a large scale, no matter what they say or think. We face obstacles, solve them creatively, use agile principles described in the manifesto and we ARE agile. The million dollar question: ARE you agile too, “purists”?
Just to finish my Bible paraphrase from the subject, I personally hope that one day agile will find its destiny and returns to its roots and true beliefs that it can help the teams and organizations become better – no matter of their size.