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How Agile is Agile?

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How Agile is Agile?

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Agile ain't just any damn thin g - Ron Jeffries

Here is what I want to know... when does agile stop being agile? Is agile only agile when we have 6 or 8 people sitting in one room doing pair programming? Is agile only agile when those 6 or 8 people are delivering cross functional features every week or two? Do I have to pass the Nokia test to be agile? Can agile be agile when I have to blend it with some PMI style practices? Can agile be agile when I have to do documentation to meet our corporate governance standards? Is agile agile when I blend it with RUP or Lean or Kanban? How about when I have 1000 people working across three continents, can that be agile?

Maybe the question really is... how agile is agile?

Maybe it's time to recognize that Ron is right. Agile ain't just any damn thing. Maybe we need a new term for what might be agile-like, but adapted to meet the needs of larger more complex enterprises. I am generally of the mind that agile is about quickly delivering value to our customers, getting fast feedback, being able to quickly respond to change, creating people centric organizations... one where individuals can make difference. One where we plan, but are not beholden to the plan. One where everyone is aligned toward creating the best possible outcomes. For me, it's always been more about the value I am creating than the rules I follow to create it.

So... maybe we are just learning that agile isn't as agile as we thought.


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