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Debunking myths about Agile 2: Agile is Just a Methodology

Updated: Sep 22, 2020

Agile is just a methodology...

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Agile is a culture, not just a methodology!

When people think about the difference between predictive processes and agile processes they think they are just that, a process. Some view them as methodologies to solve problems or to manage projects, which is true, but for Agile to work and be successful it must me so much more. Agile is not something you do, its something you and your organization must “BE.”

Why do I say this? As you assess the tenants of Agile it starts to become clear that Agile is not a step by step process. There are steps or “ceremonies” that are integrated into the flow of the work being done, but for the system to thrive there must be a cohesive team that is built on trust.

For Agile to work the entire team must be empowered, trusted, and able to perform. While there are roles and “ranks” on the team, every member is treated as an integral teammate who is invited to speak up. Everyone participates and works. Feedback and change recommendations apply to everyone including the customer and senior leadership. Communication is frequent, honest, and respectful in order to provide best value and mission accomplishment. Teams are small and if the team gets to big then you split into smaller groups.

There is also an assumption that everyone is competent, has the ability to perform, but at the same time can all learn from each other and can improve.

Here are some key tenants to articulate my point.

Agile is about TRUST, TEAM, and VALUE (product and people)

From the Agile Manifesto values:

1) Individuals and interactions over process and tools (TRUST and VALUE)

2) Working product or software over detailed documentation (TRUST)

3) Responding to change over following a plan (TRUST and VALUE)

4) Customer collaboration over contract negotiation (TEAM and VALUE)

From the 12 principles of Agile

1) Highest priority is to satisfy the customer or accomplish the mission (TEAM and VALUE)

2) Harness change for customer’s advantage (TRUST, TEAM, VALUE)

3) Deliver working software frequently (VALUE)

4) Everyone works together daily (TRUST and TEAM)

5) Build around motivated individuals. Giving them the best environment and support from leadership to be successful (TRUST, TEAM, VALUE)

6) Convey information face to face (TEAM and VALUE)

7) Working software or product is best measure of success (VALUE)

8) Promote sustainable development and pace yourself (TEAM and VALUE)

9) Technical Excellence and good design make work easy (TEAM and VALUE)

10) Simplicity is essential (TEAM and VALUE)

11) The Best solutions come from self organizing, empowered Teams (TRUST, TEAM, VALUE)

12) The Team frequently reflects on performance and makes adjustments (TRUST, TEAM, VALUE)

In agile, there are visual boards to identify prioritization of work, what is in work, and what is accomplished that all can see. The team decides how to solve problems, not the leadership. The Team is empowered to change how they may technically do something, so long as its communicated and the mission is accomplished (product developed). The Team is empowered to organize themselves based on their strengths. When issues arise they are brought to the team.

The overall end sate of an organization being agile, doesn’t mean that they have to change standard processes, or stop using predictive methodologies, or even re-structure the organization. The change starts with this knowledge and understanding.

  1. Everyone is a team member and has equal value to contribute.

  2. Information is shared and communicated frequently (good and bad)

  3. No one is beyond improvement or recommendation.

  4. Leaders remove barriers to progress and take on work that impedes the team performance

  5. The Team matters more.

If you want to become an Agile organization, start with your culture and mindset, empower your teams, let them be free to run, and remove barriers to their success.


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