Agile fables

Hang on. Agile is an adjective

I just looked it up in the dictionary: Agile is an adjective.

It means “able to move quickly and easily”.

A gazelle can be agile. I guess even a team can be agile if they can move quickly and easily as a team.

But you can’t do “able to move”. That is just not a real sentence. You can only do things that help you become more agile.

Even a process or a story wall can’t really be agile. Or at least I don’t think I have seen a story wall move quickly and easily.

So a story wall is not a tool that moves quickly, it is a tool that helps the team do things quicker and more easily. Or it is just a wall with things stuck to it, neither moving quickly nor helping the team do things more easily.

Saying you are doing agile is like saying you are more scrum than you used to be.  Or that eating too much chocolate and not doing enough exercise makes you less scrum as you get older.

Scrum is a collective noun referring to a set of things you can do in order to help a team be more agile … Things that help the team move more quickly and more easily.

And a scrum master must be a master of a scrum. I guess that means he or she is not the master of the team but the master of things that can help the team.

That makes sense if you say they can master (learn) techniques or if they are a teacher of a set of subjects the team wants to learn more about (master is another word for teacher in old school language). I guess they could also be the lord and master of a story wall but I don’t generally need someone for that.

Similarly if I say someone is an agile project manager then either I mean they are more nimble than other PM’s or that they are a project manager who helps the team do things quicker and more easily.

So an agile tester is surprisingly fast moving or good at helping the team move quickly and easily and an agile BA is either more acrobatic than the average BA or they help people do things more quickly and easily.

No wonder Glenda Mitchell told me agile is not a silver bullet, that would be like saying silver is an agile bullet.

OK, back to the problem I was trying to solve yesterday …

If I want to “scale agile” or “do agile at scale” then I can’t really find a small agile somewhere and pour water and manure on it to help it grow bigger.

What I have to do is scale the ability to do things quickly and easily.

So some agile practices tools, team structures and processes that help people do things quickly and easily as a team will still work in a large group or organisation. Others will need to evolve and some new things might be needed that weren’t needed before.

Maybe even some things that we used to do will become a hindrance rather than a help. And since scrum is a set if things that help the team rather than a religion, that means we would not try to make the team do giant scrum, we would assess whether scrum processes were still useful to the wider team.

This idea of looking words up and seeing what they mean is great. I might try it more often.

Now, if only there was some online tool I could use to look words up so I didn’t have to go and find a dictionary.  Wait a minute, I can just google it.


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