Is Agile not simply the use of common sense?

By Karin Schijf

My goal as an Agile coach is to really help the client. To make sure we move along in an Agile way with the ever-faster and ever-changing circumstances. For example, to stay ahead of your competitors, to improve quality, and to adjust and modernise certain ways of working. With improved business results as the outcome of the process.
I have noticed that certain organisations have turned Agile into somewhat of a goal, rather than a tool. Organisations that boast about their high Agile maturity are not necessarily the frontrunners in their industry or field. Common sense remains important in order to obtain results. Is the way we work today still logical, considering everything we know now that we didn’t know yesterday?

Methodologies are springing up like mushrooms
Scrum, SAFe and KANBAN are just three examples of Agile methodologies. There are dozens of ways to get company employees certified as Scrum Master or Product Owner, there are many training styles on offer, and those who offer Agile programmes attempt to safeguard specific models.

Not the training, but the practice determines success
Ever since 2001, there has been criticism and cynicism surrounding Agile. Supposedly it was just a hype, something old polished up to look new. You could certainly also wonder whether an Agile certificate necessarily makes you a ‘Master’. Understanding the theory is no guarantee that you’ll be able to implement the desired changes. Your theory exam to get a driving license does not mean you’ll be able to drive just any type of car. No two vehicles are the same, and every country has different driving rules. Much like with Agile, there is no option for one size fits all. I know many fellow Agile coaches who swear by one single method and following it to the letter with each organisation, convinced that it has no chance of working otherwise. In my mind, it’s best to implement those Agile best practices that, based on the particular moment in time and current organisational phase, will have the greatest added value for an organisation and its clients. When it comes to Agile, nothing is set in stone.

Common sense
Even when you design a flawless process for a client, if you don’t quite grasp all the needs of that client and their organisation, you’ll miss the mark completely. It’s impossible to strictly adhere to a methodology since each client is unique and different. Of course, it’s great to have a method as a guideline, but in our opinion, it should never be the binding factor. This form of common sense is also known as Agnostic Agile, and we consider it an important, positive development since it puts much more attention on an organisation’s uniqueness. This movement believes, as we do, that organisations can’t be divided into rigid structures, styles, patterns, or client experiences, but that the process should be customised.

Back to basics
A great Agile coach ensures that small, self-organising teams can achieve tangible and valuable business results. Back to basics, just like every large company once started out small. Those very first employees in a company tackle a thousand-and-one things at once, yet there is often more transparency than there is within a huge organisation. When there are questions, you simply get in touch with the client and don’t base anything on assumptions. That direct client contact in combination with short lines of communication is part of the focus within an Agile organisation. We believe in small, cooperative teams, where constructive feedback is given in order to continuously learn and develop yourself. Those are the kinds of teams where team members have a shared expertise and experience, strengthening those within each other in order to deliver tangible value to their clients.

Back to the basics of Agile?
We would love to have a conversation about the ins and outs of ‘Agnostic Agile’ and how it can help you.

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