Beware the Agile System

Is Nietzsche’s proclamation too harsh? “I mistrust all systematizers and avoid them. The will to a system is a lack of integrity.”

Perhaps it’s a tad extreme, but it makes its point well: systems crush (or at best, ignore) the needs of the individual; systems lack creativity; systems are easy, but they can also be like death – static, unyielding, final.

I’ve read quite a few Agile books and articles; and, the Agile dogma often feels like ‘commandments from the mountain’:

“Thou shalt have daily stand-ups”

“Thou shalt have a sprint that lasts two weeks”

“Thou shalt have a planning meeting”

“Thou shalt do demos at the end of the sprint”

Etc. . .
How many books, articles or speeches have I read that started by asking questions first, or encourage learning your team needs and desires first? Zero.
But that’s really how applying agility should start – with questions, with learning about your team and its needs.

Agility done well is an open conversation, an ongoing dance, an improvisational jam session. It’s open. It adjusts, as needed. It’s unafraid of challenges. It embraces change. Heck, it might even embrace some things staying the same – but it fears neither. It fits the needs of the players. The players are the main actors and owners.

If working together feels more like an act of creative than prescriptive, then your ‘process’ is probably on the right track.

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