What Level of Optimization Do You Want?

InfoQ picked up a previous post of mine about the right way of doing or being Agile. There is an interesting comment that being agile is nothing more than living the values and principles. If you’re not doing that, you’re not Agile!

A valid perspective I suppose, although I have a different stance.

How ‘agile’ you are is meaningless. Organizations that want to improve because there is an urgency to do so, will. Organizations that don’t will die off or toil around in mediocrity.

The level of optimization organizations want to reach is up to their leadership. If making work visible and having standups improves the system and allows for risk mitigation, great, do that. If that’s all you’re doing, you’re doing better already.

No process, consultant or coach is going to force a change in thinking unless there is a real sense of urgency to change.

We’re 3 weeks into the new year and my organization is already having ’emergency meetings’ because our annual plan is in jeopardy because of resource allocation problems.

Apparently the pain of year end last year has already worn off and the best thing to do is do the same thing this year.

While that sounds snarky, even at this state, we’re miles ahead of where we were this time last year.

The work is visualized, managers and directors meet frequently at standups and release reviews, many team members are buying into the new practices we’ve brought in and we’ve helped the PMO move to quarterly budgeting and monthly reformatting based on a simple set of project artifacts.

If we decide to stay a project focused company and don’t get to stable teams, that focuses on end to end value streams, that’s largely the decisions of senior leaders. There isn’t much our team can do to force that other than to continually show the evidence we have that supports that way of working.

My point is, there are more factors involved with how mature your agile practice needs to be.

What pace of change can the organization sustain? What industry are they in? What products do they have? What’s the internal politics look like? What does their technology look like?

This is only scratching the surface but my perspective of optimization is drastically different than everywhere I’ve worked.

And that is extremely frustrating sometimes.

I try to remember its not about me in the first place and sometimes an organization needs to experience the pain of failure….twice….to uncover better ways of working.