Agile 2 is defined by its Principles. However, many of its principles could be summarized by the following.
- The only general principle is, “It depends”. (Courtesy of Malcolm Gladwell)
- Don’t be extreme, unless the situation is extreme.
- Always think holistically – in terms of the whole system.
- Someone usually needs to coordinate things, and be the organizer.
- One wants a “missionary, not mercenary” – someone who sees the team(s) as the enablers of success, not as mere tools; someone who delegates, and empowers, but keeps a watchful eye. Someone who encourages the team to develop and improve and expand their abilities, and become more independent over time.
- There are many forms of leadership: team focused, advocate focused, technically focused, and maybe others; as well as individual leadership. (See our Leadership Taxonomy)
- The organization needs to explicitly focus on encouraging the benign and effective forms of leadership, and take steps to avoid giving the wrong people authority – avoiding people who “seem like leaders”, and instead selecting (actively or passively) those who are the “missionaries” and the helpers.
- Leadership is needed at every level of an organization, and the same principles apply.
- Leaders of tech-focused organizations not only need to understand outcomes, but they also need to understand how the work is done, because the “how” is often strategic.
- Product design is an essential element, apart from product implementation; yet the two are intertwined.
- Direct feedback from customers and stakeholders is the only way to measure success.
- Product implementation teams must be partners with business stakeholders – not mere order takers.
- Data is strategic, and it must not be treated as an afterthought.
- Collaboration is essential, but so is deep thought. People often need quiet and isolation in order to think deeply.
- People work, communicate, and collaborate differently. These also vary by culture. Do not impose a one-size-fits-all approach. Some people need to write their ideas down before discussing. Others need to jump right to discussion. Be sensitive to different styles and personalities.
- Team autonomy is an essential aspiration; but for a complex endeavor, full autonomy is seldom fully realizable.
- Some people want to be experts. Some people want to be generalists. Some are inbetween. All are valuable.
- Both teams and individuals matter. Don’t over-emphasize one over the other.
- A team should collectively decide how to approach its work; but then individuals perform the work and interact as they need to.
On transformation and initiatives:
- They are mostly a learning journey – not a process change.
On frameworks and methodologies:
- Never use them as defined: treat them as a source of ideas – not an Agile-by-numbers process.
That’s it! If you want the details, please see the Principles and their supporting retrospective Problems and Insights.