Agile Works Only in Software Development". Bull***t!

I was reading an interview with Henrik Kniberg titled “AGILE IS ABOUT TAMING COMPLEXITY.” Great interview with someone highly experienced in the fields of organisational transformation and Agile.

Something that really resonated with me was him saying that after all the methodologies he’s had experience with, they all boiled down to the same principles at their core:

“Do one thing at a time. Create slack in your system. Stop to reflect. Have clear priorities. Be responsive to change. Learn from failures. Things that sound kind of obvious, but are sometimes hard to apply in practice.”

Indeed. Now see, anyone who knows me can tell you that I am genuinely passionate about the work I do. My job is to speak to Agile practitioners every day and find out how they do what they do, what motivates them in their job, and how they have helped companies and other people be better at their jobs. As a result, I have developed invaluable relationships with people in the field (shout out to Jem D’jelal, Josh D’jelal, Taner Kapucu, Philiy Lander, Samantha Webb, Jose Casal-Gimenez) who have given so much back, not only to me, but the wider community as well. Last year they started on an incredible (challenging) initiative to teach Recruiters about Agile. I was one of the first people they trained over a period of 12 weeks.

This only increased my interest on the subject. Irrespective of Mr Kniberg I reached the same conclusions myself, and seeing as the end goal is to optimise the way people work we started “implementing” agile methodologies across our company too!

When we first started out it was a major change across the business and naturally caused disruption. At the beginning we would estimate that X piece of work would take us Y time to complete. In practice, Things happened as they inevitably do. But slowly we got better at estimating our “sprints”, at predicting potential blockers and removing impediments together. We added in a digital Kanban-style board to visualise and manage workflow and make it easily accessible by every stakeholder in the business. This immediately increased collaboration and transparency, but had a secondary effect of surfacing several issues we weren’t aware of. This in turn led to us becoming leaner by removing legacy processes which were an impediment to an efficient way of working.  

Slowly our way of working started changing and more importantly people’s attitude changed too. By trial and error, we ended up incorporating all the key principles into our way of working, and aligning them to Talent Point’s core values.

Talent Point’s Way of Working Manifesto for Agile Software Development
Trust & Respect: encourage trust and collaboration over individual priorities.

Individuals and interactions over processes and tools

Brand Before Billing: collaborate with our customers and be transparent at every step of the process. Our customers are our partners.                                                                                  

Customer collaboration over contract negotiation

Fast but Thorough: don’t let process get in the way of providing a quick quality service for our customers.

Working software over comprehensive documentation

Embrace The System, Change The System: allow for slack in your system, don’t be a slave to the tools – use common sense and adapt to change.

Responding to change over following a plan                                                                                                                                 

By focusing on these principles, we have ended up with a framework for managing the process of filling a tech vacancy in a data-driven, reliable and repeatable manner for us and our customers.

It is not infallible – we are constantly growing, changing, and adapting as we learn from our mistakes in a rapidly evolving IT market. But being more agile has improved our way of working by making us more productive, focused, and more importantly it made people feel happier at work. And, in the end, isn’t that the point of all these methodologies.

Is it Agile in the same context as software development? No. But is it an agile way of working? Definitely.


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