Thoughts on the Agile Ecosystem – Arie van Bennekum

Ahead of our webinar on Agile trends in 2018 we asked Arie Van Bennekum, co-author of the Agile manifesto, a few questions about Agile and IT practices and why the time is right for change.

In your own words how do you think Agile fits into an ecosystem with other IT practices and what benefit does that bring into an organization?

Methods like DevOps, ITIL, SIAM and Lean can all fit within an Agile movement. There are also those methods that are part of the Agile family like Lean, XP, DSDM, Kanban, and Scrum. All of these things give you a whole set of methods and practices which you can utilize, but they are only of real value if we focus on communication, value, delivery, and speed as a whole. Only then you can achieve corporate benefits, what actually is what you aim for working Agile.
Agile is all about continuous learning and improvement. We are at the stage of an ecosystem in just few organizations – to have all over that would be the ultimate perfection but perfection is an ambition and it evolves over time.

There is a growing movement towards people, value and speed in IT service management and working as one entity rather than lots of segmented departments. Many of those points were part of the Agile manifesto 18 years ago, why do you think the time is now right for change?

There are 2 aspects in my opinion. First of all, the economy is very good and Agile is a hot topic because of the speed in today’s economy. It takes time for a movement to be accepted. People think they are being Agile but they are not. The real work is actually end-to-end delivery. From ideas to sprint to ready for production and quickly. The need for this becomes more urgent every day. That need from competition perspective is a driving force.

Second, we have technology. Timing is imperative. There is so much tech and innovation that you just can’t do waterfall as it takes 6-9 months, and this is too long to maintain competitive advantage. Exploration and failing must now take place as part of making the end product and projects must be timeboxed to ensure they deliver at speed.

Organizations are used to a sequence of events which is lengthy. Real change towards Agile is down to removing bureaucracy and it takes time to shift mindset and paradigms. Because of those 2 aspects there is no other choice then moving towards better business value delivered earlier and with a better “under the hood’ quality. This is why the Agile movement is now really gaining pace.

You have to integrate delivery into the whole organization, I call it corporate agile.
It’s about better internal quality, getting information at the source (bring people who own information and those who use that info to make something together) and changing employees’ mindsets from individual tasks to team delivery (to be able to deliver to production in really short time boxes).

In the last 5 to 10 years there has emerged a different way of perceiving the role between employee and employer, a different view of management, leadership and the traditional hierarchy and structure of organizations. That is also leading to change as teams become self-organizing and self-managing. This will ensure a faster growth of individuals (compared to rigid personal development plans) than in the past and the ownership they feel will bring out the best of each of them in the team context.

In your upcoming webinar you will be speaking about key trends of Agile for 2018 what practical advice can you give to an organization wishing to take a more Agile approach this year?

Organizations are recognizing that they need to respond to change quickly to be future proof. If you are committed to working in a truly Agile way it can’t be done gradually or incrementally or it won’t work. It has to be done as a whole, and a cultural and bureaucratic change is imperative for success. Corporate Agile will be essential form now on.

The whole structure of organizations is changing as they recognize the benefit of working in an Agile way. The key is recognizing what value you want to bring to your Agile transformation and have a clear vision and goals with understanding and support from your teams as to the importance of changing the way you work for the future of your organization. This also implies a different role for the employer. Working Agile and traditional HR don’t get along. HR (from how HR works and how employeeship is perceived) has to change to support Agile working. This will make the difference in recruiting, development of the organization, and continuity.