Blog: Seeing Agile with 2020 Vision

Seeing Agile with 2020 Vision

Many people think of 20/20 vision as having exceptional, perhaps perfect, eyesight. What it actually means is one’s acuity (sharpness at distance) is normal relative to others. We determine how well we see based on how well most people see. Agile maturity tends to follow the same logic, but should it? As we move into the year 2020, should we really seek to have 20/20 vision when it comes to Agile?

What many are calling Agile is not Agile.

Henrik Ibsen once noted, “The majority is always wrong, the minority is rarely right.” If we think on that a bit, we’ll find that it’s rather accurate, at least most of the time. In the Annual State of Agile Report put out by VersionOne, I see this hold true year after year. 

As I thoroughly break down over a couple of chapters in my book, Pursuing Timeless Agility: the Path to Lasting Agile Transformation, what most people think and do around Agile is not what Agile intended. In this case, the majority is wrong. Yet, this is our 20/20 benchmark. 

Following the crowd can be outright dangerous. 

Did you know that if one sheep in a herd jumps off a cliff, the rest will follow and blindly plummet to their deaths as well? People aren’t quite as quick to jump, but we do like to follow the crowd. After all, that is why we chase after “best practices.” There is a sense that what most people are doing is best, but is that true?

Regarding “Agile,” we must keep in mind that the “Certification Economy” exists to make money. As Andy Hunt, co-author of the Agile Manifesto once said, “The Agile that can be certified is not the true Agile.” Please don’t hear what I’m not saying. I’m not saying there isn’t any value in trainings that lead to certifications, but a focus on specific frameworks and tools defies the whole point of being Agile. By all means, use what works, but hold on loosely. Agile, yes, but clamoring for the framework and certification of the day…be careful. 

New Year’s Resolution – Pursue Timeless Agility!

As you leave 2019 behind you and embrace 2020, make it your resolution to be more pragmatic about what you do. Put your why at the center of what you do. Critically consider whether you should follow the trendy framework or tool, and how that enables you to better live out the values and principles that should be at your foundation.

“Jimmie has a knack for challenging the common wisdom and helping teams think differently about what success looks like.” John Laub, President, Gray Leaf Technology Consultants

I wrote the book, Pursuing Timeless Agility, because far too many organizations are following the crowd and missing the whole point of Agile, and its benefits. The foundations of Agile are timeless and valuable. How it’s being distorted and misapplied is disheartening. 

“Challenged me to rethink how business is done! … I recommend reading for all managers!” John Binks, Branch Chief, FEMA

I use the first half of the book to make the case that what many are calling Agile is not Agile. I explain what Agile truly intends, provide data and experience to explain what many are thinking and doing, and then help the reader understand where they and their organization sits in that spectrum. The back half walks the reader through practical approaches to getting back on track and moving toward Timeless Agility.

“This book should be required reading for leaders looking to implement Agile in their organizations.” Sam Brilliant, Sr. Program Manager, Navy Federal Credit Union

My goal with the book is to challenge what people know about Agile, and then help them pursue the right things for the right reasons. I think we need to move beyond the 20/20 acuity of Agile and see it for what it really intends, and provides. Are you willing to challenge what you know about Agile and consider a more timeless approach? Buy the book today!

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