Three thousand years ago, explorers did not possess the technology needed to reach the moon. While people living in those days were certainly aware of the moon and at least some of them dreamed about experiencing it firsthand, intimate discovery of our now-familiar celestial body was impossible.
As we get further and further into the 21st century, we too have our presently-impossible aspirations. Lately in the business realm, “agile methodologies” have been making an increasing number of those unattainable organizational aspirations achievable.
If a running back is sprinting toward the end zone full tilt and jukes left then right to avoid the linebacker and then the safety, that athlete has demonstrated agility. When a ten-person work team is striving to have the presentation for the CEO complete by the end of the week and successfully accelerates its efforts to have it ready three days early, that team has also demonstrated agility.
Perhaps the running back has incorporated advice from the offensive coach on how to best position footing to execute the jukes, and maybe the ten-person work team had been practicing advice they read in scholarly articles about being more flexible. If that was the case, they would have both been acting with an agile approach (even if they weren’t officially using that phrase).
Agile Methodologies Origins and Present State
Business ventures can generally be navigated in different manners; the Agile approach allows teams to switch to a different path if a reason to do so presents itself. Two fundamental characteristics of the Agile approach are the ability to switch directions (or approaches) and the ability to do so with ease and speed.
An approach that is often utilized simultaneously with Agile is Lean, and people think of Agile as being the opposite end of the spectrum from “Waterfall.” Interestingly, however, “Agile” is not necessarily the opposite of “Waterfall” in the sense that “North” is the opposite of “South.”
Initiatives can be agile and waterfall at the same time. A manager that scopes out a plan for an upcoming project is using the approach known as “Waterfall.” Like many words and phrases, “Agile” means different things to different people.
One author presented the Agile definition from the Agile Alliance: “The ability to create and respond to change in order to succeed in an uncertain and turbulent environment.”
Not everyone understands agile methodologies at the same level, and when people develop and hone their understanding of these methodologies, the manner in which they implement them will improve.
Carpenters know that a Phillips head screwdriver, while functional in certain situations, is generally useless for a flat head screw. Similarly, even though agile methodologies can have a host of benefits in certain situations, it’s necessary to evaluate each situation to determine what approach is going to be most appropriate. The task of choosing the optimal amounts of each approach requires advanced knowledge.
When Agile was in its infancy, it was adopted in a widespread manner, but people are realizing that some elements of Waterfall are often essential. Smaller teams were the early target users of Agile.
As its popularity increases, there will be challenges inherent in the process of making it work for business teams composed of numerous people. Additional options within the agile umbrella include Scrum, Kanban, and Lean, whose use can also be simultaneous.
Adopting agile methods is not an endeavor that is going to yield huge returns in all possible circumstances—it is something that is considered on a case-by-case basis. Using Agile on a corporate scale remains a relatively new frontier. A common misconception is that there is a point where a project stops being a waterfall and becomes agile.
Planning ahead for the details of the hybrid approach is wise, and project evaluation post-execution can help shed light on the success of the approach. Sometimes a team claims that they are agile without really understanding what such a statement entails.
What Makes Agile Methodologies Powerful?
Agile methodologies are not in final form, and they are relevant to a variety of fields. Central themes include flexibility and ongoing improvement, and a 28% jump in success can be expected following the implementation of Agile methodologies (at least according to 2018 data). By-products of adopting Agile are lighter loads and enhanced control for management.
Two fundamental goals of Agile are customer satisfaction and timely task completion. Customers have the opportunity to weigh in as a project proceeds from inception to completion, and testing is conducted throughout the entire process (instead of solely during the final stages).
Because of this, the outcomes of teams employing Agile tend to be superior. No decisions are made without the customer, predisposing customers to return.
Agile Project Management enables products to be deployable more quickly, and progress for projects is communicated regularly. The Agile framework allows teams to better predict upcoming difficulties, resulting in better flow.
One source went as far as to say that failure will not occur for any team using Agile methodology. Agile places the customer in the position of project-overseer, allowing for extensive involvement and flexibility.
Team members practicing Agile methods can develop strong bonds with each other due to the smaller nature of the group, and individual members are not as defined by the stricter hierarchies that are characteristic of other project management methods.
How Might Agile Methods Evolve in the Near Future?
In an effort to streamline the adoption and implementation of agile methods in a given organization, Agile Centers of Excellence (Agile CoE)--whose members include coaches, leaders from upper company echelons, and consultants specializing in organizational change–are being given power and authority in this domain.
As we get farther into this decade, it is anticipated that Agile CoE will be given increasingly more and more power and influence.
The human resources (HR) domain has been slow to embrace Agile Methods due at least in part to the fact that HR is more about providing services as opposed to departments whose focus is producing goods.
Since technology is continuing to evolve at a rapid pace, HR processes are also advancing due to the more extensive digital tools HR has at its disposal while carrying out its functions.
Given the alignment of purposes for artificial intelligence (AI) and agile methods, their juncture is inevitable and highly anticipated. Businesses that create AI capable of doing its own agile tasks will reap the benefits.
It’s somewhat intuitive to assume that remote work would have negative effects on the quality of work completed by teams employing Agile Methods, but as it turns out, the negative effects are nonexistent.
Due to this, there exists a need for training to make agile remote work ever better, and the need is being addressed by organizations such as Scrum Alliance and Scaled Agile. Since digital assets have advanced so far and have become more affordable, remote agile teams have the potential to be very productive.
Transcending Agile with the Tilt 365 Framework
Functioning as teams at work has a huge number of dynamics and variables. Personality conflict, lack of resources, cultural differences and many other variables can cause culture to become rigid versus agile. The Tilt365 framework calls for four discrete sets of behavioral patterns that can be adopted by agile teams, producing four discrete outcomes.
The point is to Tilt intentionally into one of four chosen sets of behaviors that are most appropriate to the current context. Shifting quickly while staying in flow is the state that enables generativity. The four Tilt patterns are organizing principles that enable four states of mind: Structure, Impact, Clarity and Connection.
Sometimes it’s valuable to approach a task from a Structure mindset while at others it’s better to approach the task from a Connection point of view. One isn’t inherently better than the other but it may be better for a certain circumstance at a certain point in time.
Leaders and individuals who can channel any one of the four patterns when a particular set of patterns is called for has achieved a state of Agility.
Transcendence beyond Agility is what produces Generativity, where the shift between patterns is achieved with ease and flow. The primary focus is on contribution to what serves the greater culture or community as a whole and achieves innovations that extend beyond the life of the entity that created them.
Since Agile Methodology is still quite young in its evolution, we can be fairly certain that it will continue to evolve in the coming months and years.
For those who plan to implement Agile Methodology, it can be helpful to have some idea of how these methods may change in the near future. While it’s impossible to know future developments with certainty, we can make educated guesses.
This post was created to shed some light on the future of these methods so that readers can be ahead of the curve. For companies that have not yet started the process of enacting Agile Methods, it is important that the process is initiated sooner rather than later.
Given the extreme turbulence of our current world affairs, business teams that can act with agility stand to benefit in the short term and the long term.