Pattern languages can help us understand complex systems. Read how pattern languages work, and how you can write your own. We are defining agility and its practices using a pattern language called the Agile Canon. Using the first five patterns in the Agile Canon, you can diagnose whether your team is agile, whether it can keep its agility, and whether it expands agility beyond the team’s boundaries.
Are we agile? The highest performing innovators follow 6 progressive agile base patterns. To assess your agility, ask how well you follow those patterns. To stay agile, follow the agile base patterns indefinitely. Audit your business agility with this guide.
Leaders who publicly demonstrate agile methodologies and promote them top-down drive their organizations to sustain agile practices and succeed. But bottom-up agile transformations lack resiliency and generate cultural strife.
Agile methodologies are now widely recommended for managing software development, but most large companies require transformation from entrenched “waterfall development,” an intuitively appealing strategy that has created massive project disasters (see Why Software Fails). Traditionally, most large agile transformations have been pursued bottom-up. One approach starts with a single team, proves agile works, and then expands further and higher in the organization. Hopefully that agile team’s success inspires others to become agile. Another approach religiously converts all engineering teams to adopt a specific agile methodology, but leaves management teams and hierarchies, dependencies, promotion policies, job titles, roles, recruiting and budgeting in their previous form. The developers adopt agile, but the managers don’t.
Using an agile methodology for project management can help CEOs, organizations, managers, teams and individuals rapidly adapt to change, beat slower competitors and win profitable markets. Agile methodologies were created to prevent the frequent and expensive manufacturing and development failures that arose in “waterfall” or “ad hoc” projects.
Most people tackle large projects using an intuitively obvious approach called “the waterfall method”: plan a sequence of activities upfront (for example: design, prototype, build, test, deploy), then focus on one type of activity after another until they have completed the whole thing. Only in the end do they have something of value. From software development to car manufacturing, the modular sequencing in waterfall has proven extremely risky, resulting in multi-million dollar project cancellations and corporate bankruptcies. The problem arises from the enormous costs that precede real-world testing. There’s a lot of risk riding on the final stage.
Dan Greening and Jeff Sutherland will discuss Agile Leadership Patterns: The Agile Way of Doing at the Agile 2015 Conference, August 3–6, 2015. Join us and learn to answer the questions, “Am I agile?”, “Is my organization agile?” and “Are my leaders agile?” You only need to know five patterns.