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.

Episode 177: The Human Side of Agile for Non-Software Teams with Gil Broza

The Agile Revolution Podcast

Renee and Craig are at Agile 2019 in Washington, DC and talk to Gil Broza, Agile Mindset and Leadership Coach / Trainer at 3P Vantage and author of “The Agile Mind-Set“, “The Human Side of Agile” and “Agile for Non-Software Teams” and they talk about:

  • Agile 2019 talk – “How to Help your Non-Software Colleagues Adopt Agile
  • Outside of software, they notice Agile and want what they have – a different team experience and doing things better
  • Focus on a principle based transformation rather than practices – have conversations early and often on how we want to be and how we want to operate
  • The Agile Manifesto principles are partial and software heavy, the values and beliefs are the root and leadership should keep these alive
  • 26 principles in “The Agile Mind-Set” book and includes transparency (which is harder in areas…

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Episode 175: Self Selecting Teams & Olympic Lessons with Sandy Mamoli

The Agile Revolution Podcast

Craig and Tony are at YOW! Conference in Brisbane and chat with Sandy Mamoli, Agile Advisor and Coach at Nomad8 and co-author of “Creating Great Teams” and they chat about:

  • Nomad8 is a managerless agile coaching collective in New Zealand, based on the Crisp model
  • The lost podcast
  • Kanbanfor1 (and Jim Benson – Personal Kanban)
  • “Creating Great Teams” book with David Mole – based on the journey at Trade Me, if people can organise themselves for a Ship It day it should work for everyday work
  • You do not need to change reporting structures to make self selection work nor does the size of the organisation matter
  • Original paper on Self Selection
  • Larger companies should probably split to tribes of no larger than 150-200 people
  • Heidi Helfand – “Dynamic Reteaming” book and podcast
  • Should do self selections again every 6-9 months
  • Team structures…

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Episode 165: Two Years and Two Out Of Three Ain’t Bad

The Agile Revolution Podcast

Craig and Tony sit down for a personal chat with the microphone turned on for the first time in 2 years (that is not an interview) (wow, time files…), unfortunately without Renee who was out sick:

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Episode 160: Agile Lessons From My Younger Self with John Sullivan

The Agile Revolution Podcast

Craig is at YOW! Hong Kong and has a chat with John Sullivan, the CEO at Elabor8, and they talk about his Agile journey in Australia from ThoughtWorks to Sensis to Qantas to MYOB and the challenges and learnings along the way

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Episode 151: Software Craftsmanship with “Uncle Bob” Martin

The Agile Revolution Podcast

Craig and Tony are at YOW! Conference and are honoured to sit down with Robert C. Martin (aka Uncle Bob), signatory to the Manifesto for Agile Software Development and author of numerous books including “Clean Code“, “The Clean Coder” and “Clean Architecture” and they discuss:

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Episode 136: Water-Scrum.org-Falling with Dave West

The Agile Revolution Podcast

Craig catches up with Dave West, product owner and CEO at Scrum.org, at the Agile 2016 conference in Atlanta. They talk all things Agile and Scrum including:

  • Water-Scrum-Fall came about because Scrum is often delivered in the context of a organisational waterfall lifecycle
  • Scrum implies a magical Product Owner that is empowered and understands the market to effectively create a backlog and manage it and the Scrum Guide provides very litte guidance around this
  • Nexus is a way of getting multiple teams working from the same backlog and provides an exoskeleton to Scrum
  • Scrum 21 Years and The Future” talk at Agile 2016
  • People don’t get Scrum, it is always surprising how few people have read the Scrum Guide
  • The Scrum Guide is in audiobook form (but not yet in Klingon)
  • The Sprint Review is not a phase gate, it is the opportunity to inspect and…

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Episode 126 – Agile Snotfest

The Agile Revolution Podcast

Renee has been busy being sick (and Tony and Craig are sick of being busy) and thus it has been a long time between cough syrup for our Revolutionists…

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Episode 119: Agile (Raccoon) is Dead with “Pragmatic” Dave Thomas

The Agile Revolution Podcast

davethomasCraig and Tony are at YOW! Conference and get the opportunity to sit down with Dave Thomas, signatory to the Manifesto for Agile Software Development and have a great discussion about:

  • Dave’s talk “Agile is Dead (Long Live Agility)
  • Agile as a word has become meaningless, don’t follow the off-the-shelf processes, apply small corrections to move forward
  • Story of Stone Soup is like Agile consultancies, the hard work is done by the companies
  • Scrum is a good starting point due to its simplicity
  • Raccoon is a noun, so not a good replacement name for Agile, because you can buy a pound of it
  • 1,000 working on one thing can never be Agile, you have to make enterprises agile before you can run an agile project
  • The values in the Agile Manifesto hold up well, would have been nice to have had more diversity, had no expectation they were…

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Episode 118: YOW! 2015 Brisbane Vox Pop

The Agile Revolution Podcast

yow_2015_conference_-stacked-pngCraig and Tony are once again roaming the lunch hall at YOW! 2015 in Brisbane, where they catch up with a number of people including:

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