Agile — More than 20 years a buzzword
How Agile keeps widening, deepening, and improving for already more than 20 years.
These days, we are so overwhelmed with everything ‘Agile’ that it’s easy to forget that not everyone is aware of all the terminology. Especially being an Agile Coach slash Scrum Master it’s easy — through occupational deformation — to get a blind spot for your own bullshit bingo.
The other day, I told someone to contact the Product Owner in order to get a User Story on the Backlog, so it could be refined during a refinement session, get pokered, and then picked up in a coming sprint.
The vacant look and deadly silence on the other end of the screen made me realize my waterfall of Agile words was leaps and bounds too far for someone who has never interacted with an Agile team.
So, what is ‘Agile’ then? Libraries could be filled with books on Agile, but let me suffice with what Agile means to me in a nutshell:
The idea behind an Agile way of working is an organization that is able — as a whole — to respond to all rapid changes organizations have to deal with these days — changes in the sales market, the technique, the labor market, the legislation, the societal changes, etc. You need an Agile mindset in the entire organization to get the best results — which entails: empowering people, working iteratively in as short as possible cycles, focusing on delivering as much value as possible in as short a time as possible, and embracing transparency.
Whether you use the Agile framework of Scrum, or Kanban, or SAFe, or your own mix like Spotify does, the basics are the above. Because more and more organizations worldwide adopt an Agile way of working you see a widening taking place. Where at first there were mostly IT departments in IT-focused organizations that started ‘Scrumming’, throughout the years a widening has been taking root to, for instance, sales and marketing departments. After the tech companies, other sorts of organizations also started experimenting with Agile, like construction companies, schools, and even healthcare organizations.
Next to the widening, there has also been a deepening. Where Scrum Masters and Agile Coaches were at first often developers or testers that did the Agile stuff as a side job, we have seen a growth towards full-time coaching. Many achieve coaching diplomas and delve into related disciplines, like psychology.
The coaching of teams and entire organizations usually has less to do with content than with the functioning of individuals in those teams and organizations. The dynamics of a team are mainly determined by the way of working together of the team members. Experienced Scrum Masters and Agile Coaches know that they benefit more from good coaching techniques than from profound knowledge of the ticketing system of the concerning organization.
Through the widening and deepening, the Agile way of working keeps getting better and more robust. Already more than 20 years going strong and still not fully developed — Agile is not easy to do right, but the rewards in value for the organization and for the people is more than worth it.