Pitfalls of referencing agile | Easy in theory, difficult in practice

One of the clichés you will come across if you read enough articles or watch enough videos about agility is that we should use the term as an adjective and not as a noun. Here are some examples of this abuse.

“We do agility”

Agile is an umbrella term for many concepts that aim to provide value, improve quality and make people amazing. But once we start talking about “quick doing,” it usually implies that the focus has shifted from the results we would like to implement to the tactics of how we plan to implement those results. Once that happens, the next step is usually to emphasize these tactics more than they help us achieve. Never forget, “People and interactions on processes and tools”.

“My agile is better than your agile”

One set of agile practices, roles, tools, and techniques may be the correct answer in one work context, but may be less effective in another. Once we begin to invest in a specific framework or methodology by taking courses, gaining certification, or by participating in echo-chamber communities that focus on our choice, we begin to treat each initiative as our (sole) hammer.

But let’s not make fun of ourselves. Misunderstandings can also occur when we refer to flexibility as an adjective incorrectly.

“I’m running a nimble project” or “I manage agile projects”

Unless your project gets a feel for it, it can not be agile. Similarly, treating yourself as a nimble project manager may cause someone to ask who would want to be a nimble project manager.

Even calling something agile practice, tool, role or object is inaccurate. This implies that these may not have existed before 2001 and are only useful in those projects that are delivered in an adaptive approach. Many so-called agile practices have emerged from lean, DSDM, Scrum, XP and other manifestos for manifesto.

“I want to use / learn the agile methodology”

This equates to the myth “my agility is better than your agility”, as it implies that agility is achieved by following a single recipe.

So what are some better uses for the term? How about “being nimble” or “agile life cycle”? The first refers to agility as a characteristic or trait of an individual, group, or organization that can be objectively evaluated. The latter refers to the approach taken to provide value cumulatively and iteratively to our stakeholders, as opposed to a predictable life cycle.

If this sounds like I’m debating a minor semantics, words to do Interest and when people treat agile inappropriately it can often be a symptom of deeper problems.

(If you liked this article, why not read my book Easy in theory, hard to practice Which contains 100 additional lessons on project leadership? It is available at Amazon.com And so on Amazon.ca As well as a number of other online bookstores)

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