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.
Context: Plenty of data informs us. We can forecast when things will happen. Our progress metrics are aligned with long term goals. But externalities impede our progress: competitors emerge, delays harm us. We are passive victims of outside circumstance.
Passivity until risks are revealed can be too late …
We suspect unknown dangers, economic loss, and growing ineffectiveness. Our friends reassure us, choosing their words carefully. Existing data is eerily stable. We aren’t learning anything new.
Dustin Mattison interviewed me on how one could apply agile principles to supply chain management. The interview shows how to map Agile Base Patterns to a non-software field.
You can listen to the podcast here: The Five Characteristics of Sustainable Agile Methods, from the Future of Supply Chains blog.
Context: It takes us time to decide to fix problems, and we let some problems fester because we don’t want to get anywhere near them. When we are on a team, we can blame someone or something else for a problem, and often do. We might blame our own permanent flaws for a problem, feeling guilty. None of this blaming seems to fix anything, but we stick to our comfort zone. Pitching in to fix problems can associate us with the problem and put us in danger. It might be a tar baby.
We delay improvement by avoiding responsibility, leaving problems unresolved…
Creative organizations, teams and leaders often encounter problems, as they explore new frontiers.
In solving a problem, our biases can lead to a dysfunctional “fix”…
Completing a task may involve many people and many steps. If it fails, we often focus on the last people involved or the last steps taken (Availability Heuristic). If we don’t look deeper, our solutions could worsen our situation. For example, if bad news causes us to kill the messenger, we eliminate a good source of information (Shooting the Messenger).
Context: We can study others who succeed, imitate their activities and gain their skills. But these activities create nothing new. Once we have reached their capabilities, how do we know if we’ve improved?
Long-term success metrics provide poor short-term guidance …
Join Dan Greening for a conversation on Agile Leadership Patterns on June 17, 2015 at 6:00pm in Santa Barbara, California. Remote participants can join the meeting online. Dan first used and researched Scrum and agile methods at Citrix Online, several of his publications discuss practices and data from that early work. Now, Dan has distilled our understanding of agility into a small set of practices: if you do them, you’re agile; if you don’t, you’re not.
Please register and mark your calendar!
While agile has zealots, it is not a religion. Agile is a scientific method that converts economic chaos to profit.
Enterprises often have lots of time-sensitive opportunities and insufficient skilled or creative people (called “developers” in this pattern) to do everything.
Problem: Stakeholder competition distracts creative people, interferes with profitable work and creates office politics …
To sustain rapid adaptation and innovation, we need good agile managers. But management talent is rare, and agile management talent even rarer.
Danger lurks when executives and managers don’t understand agile. You can tell when managers don’t understand agile: they don’t use it themselves. Agile methods, Scrum particularly, are perfect for managing creative teams, including management teams planning and executing strategy (see Strategy Scrum Teams). [suth2014]