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Agility: A Profound Change?

Or just a passing trend?

9 February 2017

During dinner with friends, we discussed Agile, after a little politics and before dessert.

I spoke — as usual a little transported — of the benefits of Agile, especially in the area I know best: computer science. I tried to explain the substantial marrow to attentive and benevolent ears.

And poof! As I floated peacefully in my cloud of agility, human values, well-being at work, commitment, participation, and adaptation to change, I encountered an air bump: "But, dude, Agile — it's a fashion effect, a passing trend. Everyone is talking about it right now, but in maybe two years, it will be over, we will go back and do things the old way."

Ouch. That hurt, and it required reflection.

My reaction was to say that no, Agile in business (at least for IT projects) is not a fashionable choice, a passing trend, but rather a profound change in functioning in our approach to work, in our relationship to others.

That said, I could prove nothing.

Big anxiety for two days.

I was clearly oriented toward an idealistic and beneficent vision of human beings, of our ability to carry the good with us, to encourage fundamentally positive values as a team. What if I I was completely wrong? What if the "fashion effect" was real?

Well, OK, what is a fashion effect or passing trend? A trend arises from its gurus and is noticed by trend trackers. They jump on the bandwagon, then are ready to jump off to catch the next one. It is true that such people exist in the Agile world; there are opportunists there as everywhere. But a fashion effect is, I think, also cyclical: It is not for nothing that our children borrow our old clothes (totally hip or vintage; call them what you choose). Agile is not cyclical, from what I know (I consider myself a novice, as you'll have noticed). A fashion effect is also short, while Agile has been built over decades of observations and experiments in environments requiring optimal productivity, high quality in products, and total customer satisfaction. A fashion effect does not really involve the customer, who is more of a passive consumer. Agile is just the opposite.

In short, I seek, I contemplate, and I believe. I want to believe that this movement is more than a passing trend and that mentalities, hierarchical relationships, postures, and their implications will change, have changed already — and that these changes will last for a long time.

Of course, some companies will resist, maybe adopt a totally opposite position. These companies will probably continue to function and may even remain leaders in their field. But at what price, for the human in particular?

This is only the beginning of my reflection, but you — what do you think? Agile: fashion effect or profound change?

Opinions represent those of the author and not of Scrum Alliance. The sharing of member-contributed content on this site does not imply endorsement of specific Scrum methods or practices beyond those taught by Scrum Alliance Certified Trainers and Coaches.

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Phillipe de Souza, CSD,CSM,CSPO, 2/11/2017 9:49:42 AM
Agility is not a passing thing and in my opinion, bellow are some reasons that make the agile movement not a fad.

Specially in IT industry, for years we have lived with failures in projects motivated by non-value-added deliveries, delays and frequent demotivations. Projects based on traditional development methodologies (prescriptive and with little flexibility).

Agile methods like Scrum framework are designed for projects where the environment is considered chaotic, or at least complex - with little predictability (ie, based on empirical processes). For these types of Projects it is possible to perceive a series of gains, such as:

- early discovery of problems and making adjustments
- flexibility in the course changes of the Project
- constant learning of the development teams involved in the Product - positively impacting the volume of deliveries over time
- emerging architectures throughout the Project life cycle and not defined in the initial stages
- constant inspection and adptation throughout the Project - making the team more mature and cohesive
- increasing the competitive advantage of companies
- increased satisfaction of the sponsor / customer / user of the solution with fast and frequent deliveries

So, I believe that the organizations have realized that the adoption of less prescriptive and more flexible methods to the changes demanded by the consumers in their Products are the true path for differentiation in the market.
Gowri Goli, CSM, 2/12/2017 9:25:53 AM
Agile is a framework, not a strict rule book. Usually complex traditional projects don't change the release date, they reduce the scope. In Agile management will know that they have to reduce the scope very early and change their expectations.
Karl Barthel, CSM, 2/20/2017 11:11:33 AM
Maybe the way to look at it is to think of Agile as the clothing and accessory industry. The different frameworks may be the different, major sub industries... but they all have common threads (pun intended); clothing, head ware, foot ware, accessories, etc. The industry and sub industries ebb and flow as the various cultures move from one thing to another. Just a thought, not really sure if it fits your problem though.

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