All of us are doing what we are doing to achieve one thing, that is happiness. I read this inspiring article a while ago “Searching for happiness: What makes life meaningful?”
We dream of living in a villa with a swimming pool and a Jacuzzi. We want to live next to a river surrounded by picturesque mountains. Why do we need these things? It's because imagining having these amenities gives us a sense of happiness. We think that one day by acquiring them we would be in a “permanent” state called “happiness.” Is this really possible?
Personally, I feel that happiness is a journey and a state of mind. There is no permanent state called “happiness," and a person gets happiness by conquering challenges. No challenge, no happiness. So, happiness is an ongoing exercise of chasing challenges, conquering and experiencing them. I get happiness when I spend time with loved ones or some one writes some good words about an article. I get happiness when I clear the challenging “driving test” or complete a presentation in front of a “challenging” audience.
Now, let us look at how Agile and happiness are related…
I see a lot of organizations craving for Agility, and it reminds me of human beings craving for happiness. The organizations invest a lot of money to become “Agile." This is akin to the the waterfall era where organizations used to crave for CMM certifications. During the waterfall era, companies thought having CMM 5 certification would enable them to reach a kind of “Nirvana” or a “final state” of excellence. Anyways, now it is history that it was proven wrong.
With the popularity of Agile, the companies are now craving for the Nirvana called “Agile." When 4 Agilists from 4 different companies get together, they would always discuss if their company is “Agile” or not. They talk about Flickr doing 10 deployments a day, compare it to their own and beat themselves up. There is a perception that if a company is able to do 10 deployments per day or do a Continuous Integration then they are an “Agile” company. This is very similar to human beings assuming that they would be in a state of “permanent” happiness when they acquire a house and a jacuzzi, living next to the river. Is it really true that there is a final state called “Agile”?
I personally think that being “agile” is truly what makes a company “Agile.” Just like how happiness is a journey and there is no “permanent” state called happiness, being “agile” is a journey and there is no final/permanent state called “Agile”.
As long as the company is going through a journey of continuous improvement and moving in the right direction, they are “Agile”.