The Future of Agile

I gave a talk the other day with Ward. We were speaking to the AgilePDX community.

As a kick-off to their meeting, they asked Ward to talk about the history of AgilePDX, a group that he helped found as XPDX , almost 20 years ago. Ward ask me to talk with him.

He told the group that he could provide insight into the past of Agile. He introduced me, saying that I could provide insight into the future of Agile.

I wasn't expecting that introduction - I was there to simply share the story about how we, at Innovate Oregon are bringing the mindsets and toolsets of Agile to educators to empower their journey to re-imagine education.

I sense a lot of angst in the Agile community. It has been a number of years since the movement was founded. There seems to be a feeling that, perhaps, they have lost their way.

Here is how Thorbjørn Sigberg recently described this discomfort: >We were all longing for a future where Agile would be mainstream. But then instead what happened was Agile became mainstream.

The enemy at odds with the community is sometimes called the "Agile Industrial Complex". Others speak of it as "Imposed Agile". Regardless, there seems to be a deep yearning for something that was lost as the practice of Agile has become standardized in corporations.

Battle lines often seem to be drawn between proponents of different practices, called frameworks. Scrum vs. Kanban, LeSS vs SAFe. These frameworks have professional coaches each with vested interest in promoting their particular practices.

There are attempts by others to reclaim the meaning of Agile by redefining its manifesto, casting it in a broader light. So now we have groups organizing around Modern Agile and Responsive Org....

Unfortunately, this tribalism sows the seeds of confusion, particularly when you move beyond the domain of software development and corporate management. None of these arguments make any sense at all to educators, the folks I am working with.

If we are to use Agile as the bridge to connect the world of education to the world of industry to build an inclusive creative economy together, we have to radically re-think how we talk about Agile.

Because, at its core, Agile is an experience that releases the Creative Genius of individuals and teams. Any passionate agilist will tell you that. And any educator, when they see this empowered genius in their students, will know that they have experienced a profound truth which re-inspires their passion to teach.

I would argue that the future of Agile, then, lies with us reclaiming the universal transformative power of that experience, one that taps the Essence of Agile.