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

Gil Broza is on a mission to make software development more effective, humane and responsible. He helps people pick up where Scrum left off, especially on the technical, human and thinking sides of agile. His new book "The Agile Mind-Set" helps practitioners go beyond process and adopt a true agile approach to work. He is also the author of "The Human Side of Agile", the definitive practical book on leading agile teams to greatness; host of the popular virtual trainings Individuals and Interactions and Packing List for Your Agile Journey; and co-leader (with Johanna Rothman) of the annual Influential Agile Leader event. Any given day, you can find him coaching, consulting, training, speaking, facilitating and writing. 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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Love can sweep you off your feet and carry you along in a way you've never known before. But the ride always ends, and you end up feeling lonely and bitter. Wait. It's not love I'm describing. I'm thinking of a monorail.

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