In his 2006 book Innovation: The five disciplines for creating what customers want, Curtis Carlson said that “innovation is the primary driver of prosperity”. Many Agile enthusiasts who have read his book agree, and take it one step further, asserting that Agile is the “world’s best innovation engine” (Denning, 2015).
This may very well be true. Certainly, for Agile practitioners, Agile and its various approaches (i.e. Scrum, Kanban, DSDM) offer a creative and innovative way to solve project problems in an efficient way. It’s the reason why there are literally thousands of blogs dedicated to these Agile methods alone, including this one. So, with so many successes, why change anything at all? If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, right? But I would argue that this complacency is actually part of the danger.
In our project world, every successful Agile delivery is a celebration of the framework we know so well. Every year the surveys boast growing numbers of successful projects under Agile and Scrum, and our old waterfall friend loses yet another trophy to its Agile counterpart.
But who is driving the Agile engine? People like you and me are driving it. No matter how squeaky clean and efficient the Agile engine is, if there is a problem with the driver, then you won’t get from Point A to Point B, and even if you do, you may arrive at a place you weren’t expecting.
Agile exists as a framework and approach shared by like-minded people with a common purpose. If we rely too much on the engine to steer itself, we will lose the innovation within ourselves, and instead, become slaves to an Agile prescription mandated by certifying bodies and self-proclaimed experts.
We have talked a little about the Agile engine and the driver. But no one has mentioned the fuel. That is a very different story for another time!
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Denning, (2015). Agile: The World’s Most Popular Innovation Engine. Leadership Strategy. Forbes Magazine.
The Agile Engine
You touch on a very important point: The operator of the train is vital for the success of the journey.
Interesting your approach
Thanks for sharing
What has led organizations to adopt agile approaches?
What are the reasons for the enthusiasm of people working on agile approaches?
Is there a "perfect match" between organizations and people?
That said it is the responsibility of those organizations, teams, and individuals to put in the effort, to challenge their way of thinking to progress and have success in their new way of working.
And have fun of course!
I think we (including me) too often start with a "how are we going to do this?" rather than than "what is the real goal here?". The choice of approach (Agile, Hybrid, Waterfall) shouldn't be a consideration, although the organisation and teams must be able to support the approach.
I'd love to know what you think the fuel is ("organisational" needs or goals?).
What about the reasons for the enthusiasm of people working on agile approaches?
Engine: Agile framework/process
Timetable: Where to go (goals/deliverables/output) and by when
Drivers: People/project team
Fuel (inputs to progress the engine): $$, right skill sets, equipment and materials (core fuel components), empowerment (octane level?), trust and appreciation (additional power boosting additives?)
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