Keeping it AGILE - the core principles

The core principles

Here are what I think are the other core principles of AGILE as it relates to service improvement or redesign. I will be covering each of these in more detail in subsequent posts. If you think there are others then let me know..

  • AGILE is as much about a state of mind as a set of techniques and tools - you are acquiring new habits and letting go of old habits
  • The beating heart of AGILE - the 30 day test cycle and why it is so hard.
  • Failure is expected - Failing Forward is the default mode.
  • Understanding why…? Are we all on the same page - but not necessary to be on same line.
  • The power and simplicity of the story card…avoiding ‘painting by numbers'.
  • Keep it visual…why you need a very big wall!
  • The discipline of the SCRUM - sessions that maintain momentum.
  • Knowing how we are doing - so how do we know if it works?
  • We are all in it together - keeping it connected in a complex world.

Beware of AGILE

Like many methodologies that start from a simple premise AGILE has succumbed over time to an accretion of additional methodologies, tools and constraints. It has also been subject to some misinterpretation. My recommendation is to keep it as simple as possible. The introduction of AGILE is your first AGILE project.

All too risky - capture and constrain

Often traditional project and programme management cultures have sought to capture and constrain AGILE to make it fit within their own mental models or through the fear of failure that is an inherent and essential part of the technique or simply because of a perceived loss of control. 

Making a meal of it

There are a lot of people out there who have made AGILE their business. They have developed flavours of AGILE and surrounded it with branded documentation, pamphlets and generally sclerotic baggage that fills shelves and is handed out at expensive workshops and training courses. In most cases these are people and organisations that are still culturally in the old modes of hierarchical project and programme management. They have seen the possibilities of AGILE but have difficulty letting go of the old certainties and comfort blankets. Overcomplicating AGILE means they do not truly 'get'AGILE'.

You are AGILE if I give you an iPad and remove your desk

AGILE/Agile is as much a state of mind as a technique. Closing offices and making staff work from home, their car or a hot desk is not AGILE or indeed agile without fundamentally redesigning the way staff operate in the new environment. Too often what organisations mean by agility is that you have to move fast and have sharp elbows to get one of the few hot-desks. Or consigning staff to work from their kitchen table whilst competing with a 4 year old making fairy cakes and the teenager revising for GCSEs.