As agilists, we are all fighting – to various extents – the perception that Agile is a set of processes, techniques, and (if we’re lucky enough that people understand this) mindsets to optimize software development teams. To some degree I can’t blame people for thinking that because that’s kinda how Agile got started. But nowadays Agile is taking a very holistic approach, a perspective that goes far beyond helping a team of developers function better. By the way, when I say “Agile”, I’m including Agile scaling frameworks as well as Lean and related product development approaches (so yes, I’m casting a pretty wide net, which is reflective of the close relationships between these different knowledge areas).
Here are additional angles Agile is looking at the world from and tries to impact:
- Organizational agility: enabling the organization to act and react quickly to environmental and market conditions.
- Portfolio management, i.e. understanding size and benefit of high-level initiatives and making optimal decisions for the business. Working on the right things (in the right order).
- Systems thinking (vs. local optimizations), aimed at optimizing the whole process of value delivery, not just software development.
- Removal of waste in processes and shortening cycle times of value delivery (not just creating shippable code).
- Making decisions based on economical and empirical considerations.
- The Lean Agile mindset which influences leadership style and organizational decision making.
- Organizational culture, including, but not limited to trust, respect, empowerment, etc.
- Organizational design and structure as well as performance management and recognition approaches.
- Product development approaches, e.g. the Lean Startup.
- Drive away from industrial era management beliefs and styles.
- Accounting practices impacting if and how capitalization is practiced, budgeting and planning.
- Appropriate metrics and KPIs.
- Technical practices (CI, CD, DevOps) and quality practices (test automation etc.) and technical craftsmanship.
- Architecture (think emergent architecture, loosely-coupled components, micro services, etc.)
- Relentless (self-) improvement at all levels. Kaizen.
- Team and interpersonal dynamics.
- Team and organizational health.
- Product innovation.
I probably forgot a few elements, but you get the gist. This is why agilists want to engage with and influence various levels in the organization, including senior management, and individuals in
- Engineering, technology, architecture, quality (obviously)
- IT infrastructure
- Product management
- Project management
- Finance & accounting
- Human resources
Hopefully over time the limited perception of Agile will be corrected by people and organizations understanding the holistic nature of Agile. With that approach, we can really unlock and enable the potential of an organization and its products.