Agile 2 In a Nutshell

Agile 2 is defined by its Principles. However, many of its principles could be summarized by the following.

In general:

  • 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.

On Leadership:

  • 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.

On products:

  • 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.

On data:

  • Data is strategic, and it must not be treated as an afterthought.

On collaboration:

  • 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.