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Agile Basics

Are you really agile?

by Keith Richards
Learn if you're truly agile — challenge your team's adaptability and start the journey to full agility today.
Are you agile


After recently attending the Agile Business Conference, one thing that struck me about the conference was that the attendance figures had increased significantly compared to previous years. The number of people sponsoring the event appeared to have doubled. There was a whole new buzz about the event.

In this short article I am going to ask you to consider whether you and your team really are agile.

Being agile

One big message that hit me this year centres around the concept of ‘being agile’ and one of the keynote speakers was from the well renowned Forrester Research. Whilst most of the presentation was rich in content there was one statistic that surprised me. In fact, it so surprised me that I must be honest and say I didn’t believe it.

The figure that the Forrester speaker quoted was that ‘27% of all organisations are mature with their agile at enterprise level ‘. Well, at agileKRC we provide agile consulting and agile training to hundreds of organisations and we put that figure at much nearer to 2.7% and that is on the high side!

Thinking you are agile when you aren’t

In our travels as we deal with our customers, we find one hugely recurring theme. That is a lot of people think they are agile and doing agile whereas the truth is that they aren’t! They may be doing ‘some’ agile but in general terms they are not agile as they think they are!

So, I think it is becoming incumbent on everyone in the agile community today to look at what they do and decide how agile they are.

Remember. if you are bringing in agile to your organisation it is never a case of a black-and-white decision. It’s not a case of ‘yes we are agile’ or ‘no we are not agile’. It will always be a case of degree. How agile? How far down the spectrum to agility have we gone?

Agile is more than just user stories or story points

There are some questions I would pose just to find out whether you are agile. Are you just using agile techniques? An example of this would be stand-up meetings, user stories and estimation points. Although this does represent some degree of ‘being agile’ there is a lot more to being agile than just a series of new best practice techniques.

Another example is timeboxing. Are you really being feature focused with your work and working in 2 to 4-week time intervals and delivering a set of features? Or, are you really looking at a mirage and all you are really doing is phased waterfall?

What about your relationship with the business or customer – is it highly collaborative?

Is life all about prioritisation – or is it about playing with resources and shifting deadlines?

But the bigger beast and the bigger fish to fry that came out from the conference sessions time and time again concerns agile at scale.

How far has your organisation embraced agile?

How many of the areas in your organisation have embraced agile? The business as a whole? Operations? The Quality Assurance department?  What about your PMO? What about your senior management?

Is agile just happening at the coalface or is it happening throughout the whole company?

There may be a reason why Forrester are quoting such a high figure – I guess it depends on the actual question that has been asked. But agileKRC deals with lots of customers and I feel that one thing is for certain. That for the vast majority of organisations who are moving to agile – they have only just begun!

Learn from agile leaders

agileKRC has helped shape agile thinking by leading the teams that developed AgilePM® and PRINCE2 Agile®. We take a practical, success-oriented approach. We begin by taking the time to listen and understand your needs, before offering our real-world experience and expert guidance.

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