Agile Nomad

“My process is waterfall. We can’t do agile”

Ok. Let’s face it.



We live in a world of fixed priced contracts. We live in a world of long term budgeting processes. We live in a world of so-called “quality” gates.



We live in a world where we expect what we know now will still be useful, valuable, and demanded in 6 months, even years ahead.


So, the statement that triggers this article is something we hear very often.


I’ve heard some so-called agilists saying


“oh, then agile is not for you”. “You need to change every bit of that”. “And only then, you can be agile”.


Only those of pure souls who can walk the way and change every “wrong” thing will become agile.


How wrong.


We seem to be missing agility is far more than a process. We seem to be missing agility is also about people. And it’s also about how we change the way we understand the “products and services” we deliver to satisfy some customer needs.


So, let me draw some scenarios.


Imagine a company following a waterfall process.


Its market is heavily regulated (e.g. Pharma, Food, Public Sector, Finance, Legal affairs, International trading… you choose…).


There’s processes heavily validated by audits (yes, old-fashion process… but that must be followed as of today to be in the market).


Are we saying that company cannot:


  • Change their structures (their org, the way people is organised) so that rather than being aligned to the process, be aligned to the value while still following the process? So, yes, we’ll follow the process, but we are going to avoid that pattern where my departments mirror the process. We are going to stress the process, and shuffle a bit our org… merge a bit our people so that we can improve the knowledge in each “phase”.
  • Change the way the company understands that thing they are delivering. Focus on the customer and the need that thing they will deliver is going to satisfy (or not…). So, yes, we’ll follow the process, but we will ensure our people knows who they are serving, no matter where they are in that “process”, and how the thing we all are delivering is going to address a particular need (or not). And ensure we find a way to check whether or not that need is satisfied. And if there are other ways (products or services) in which we can satisfy a bit more…

Do you think that company will be as agile as another company that:

  • Follows the process, and their org matches the process ?
  • Follows the process, and the knowledge is siloed and constrained to the process area and phase the knowledge is supposed to be required (and only there…) ?

Clearly, we won’t be as agile as we could if we are constrained by processes.


Clearly, the steps I’m talking about won’t be simple to achieve in a process constrained environment.


But hell, we can still make a difference !!!


And you know what?


If you make a difference… they will follow.

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