“We just need to be Agile”
In the decade that I’ve been an Agile practitioner I’ve heard this phrase more times than I can count. Of course, most of the time, what they actually mean is, “You and your team need to be flexible.”
As a veteran Scrum Master my reply is usually: “I am being Agile (with a capital A). I think what you want is agile (little a) a.k.a. flexible.”
Which leads us to the question at hand. When should a team be flexible? The answer might surprise you. Which is: always. However, the part of being flexible that gets overlooked is that flexibility must go both directions.
Product Owners, Product Mangers, Business Owners, etc. must also be flexible as well. Otherwise, what is being asked is not flexibility, it’s compliance. When everyone is flexible, negotiations (and trade-offs) become part of the conversation for injection, pivoting, etc.
When there is no room for negotiations, then flexibility (or “being agile”) is lost and any solution(s) that follows will almost always be an Agile anti-pattern.
The good news is that avoiding Agile anti-patterns is fairly easy.
The Agile manifesto has been broken down into The Twelve Principles of Agile that help you know how to navigate and negotiate most situations. For example:
- Your production environment is down, and you need the dev team on it now? See principles 1 and 7.
- Your customer wants to pivot and take advantage of the latest MyFace or Clip-Tok craze? Principles 2, 3, and 4 has you covered.
- Need to add a new development team to your product development? Look no further than Principles 5, 6, and 8.
So, the next time your team is faced with an injection, change request, etc. start by asking the question, “How does Agile (and the Agile Manifesto) apply here?” Then you will find yourself being Agile (capital A) and not just agile (little a).