The Big Tent of Agility

This post originally appeared on the SoftEd website.

One of the advantages of an Agile way of working is the fact that you can inspect and adapt and find the best tool or practice for the job. Unfortunately, though, when you are learning or looking for guidance, the myriad of frameworks and techniques can make the transformation to a new way of working seem very daunting.  It is therefore no surprise that frameworks that promise to offer a way to make sense of the complexity continue to rise in popularity in organisations all over the world.

If we go back to the roots of Agility and the creation of the Manifesto for Agile Software Development back in 2001, it was a meeting of the people who were the creators of the key approaches and practices at that time – Scrum, Extreme Programming, DSDM, Crystal and Adaptive Software Development amongst others. The key to the Manifesto was that it was written to be framework (and organisation) agnostic and that it captured the key values and principles of agility, to the extent that it is still universally agreed that this document is both the definition and core of Agile. Even the newer interpretations of the basics, such as Modern Agile and Heart of Agile, still borrow heavily on the core.

When I started my Agile journey in the early 2000’s we were still inventing a lot of the practices that we take for granted today. My early experiences were mostly a hybrid of Extreme Programming and Scrum, with a mix of other practices built in and finding the tool for the job and the team at the time. To me, Agile has always been about the core values and principles with a large umbrella of practices and frameworks underneath it. This doesn’t mean that following a framework like Scrum is wrong, it’s just knowing when something more or different is required. This is exactly what led to scaling approaches like LeSS, Scrum At Scale and SAFe and even for Ken Schwaber (one of the creators of Scrum) to define the term “Scrum And“.

One of the great things about Agile and its community is it is a place where ideas can be tried and shared. The Agile Alliance, the non-profit organisation formed out of the Agile Manifesto to promote and bring together the Agile community (of which I am proud to be an active member and current board member and secretary) refers to this as the “the big tent” – a place where any person of idea that subscribes to the values and principles is welcome. This big tent or umbrella was one of inspirations for a conference talk I gave a few years ago called “40 Agile Methods in 40 Minutes” – the visualisation of which has been used widely in the community ever since.

This big tent approach is one of the core reasons I was drawn to working with SoftEd, initially over 10 years ago as a client and customer, then later as a contract trainer and in more recent years as the Global Agility Lead. As one of the world’s leading ICAgile course providers, the suite of world quality courses are based on teaching the “big tent” of agility with a focus on giving attendees the best tools and techniques they need to be successful. The same approach applies to coaching engagements where the focus is on capability uplift and successful outcomes.

There is a myriad of techniques and practices and ways to get support on your Agile journey. If you are looking for training or coaching support that puts a focus on getting the right outcomes rather than a strict adherence to a framework, then make sure you check out the range services that SoftEd has to offer.

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