Adopting Agile? Don't Say It's Common Sense

Gil Broza specializes in increasing organizational agility and team performance with minimal risk and thrashing. Dozens of companies seeking transformations, makeovers or improvements have relied on his pragmatic, modern and respectful support for customizing agile in their contexts. His book "The Agile Mind-Set" helps practitioners go beyond process and adopt a true agile approach to work. His book "The Human Side of Agile" is a practical book on leading agile teams to greatness. These days, several of the world's largest organizations are having him train hundreds of their managers in technology and business (up to VP level) on practical agile leadership. Get Gil's popular 20-session mini-program "Something Happened on the Way to Agile" free at OnTheWayToAgile.com.

In my courses, I use various activities to examine and drive home agile’s many principles. Ones that usually trigger deep conversations include getting to “done,” feedback, collaboration, and effectiveness before efficiency. Many senior managers attend my courses, and almost every time, one of them will ask: “Aren’t these principles just a common-sense way to work?”

I often hear the sentiment applied to popular agile practices, too. For instance, doesn’t it make sense to demo finished work to stakeholders? Meet your teammates every day for micro-planning? Capture work items from the perspective of the customer and process them in descending order of value?

If all this is indeed common sense, why has much of the world of work—at least the work of software development—operated differently in the last several decades? In fact, why hasn’t the new “sensible” approach displaced the previous approach completely?

Why common sense is not so common
The answer has to do with our value systems. Do you know the saying attributed to Voltaire, “Common sense is not so common”? There’s truth to it, and the truth is that what passes for right or sensible is not absolute; it’s derived from what we value—what’s important to us.

Why do some people (agile practitioners) base their…

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