Is Agile management a methodology, or an ideology?

Eliza is Luminact’s Agile Transformation Coach. She delivers and manages digital and agile transformation for large organisations and complex projects. With 15+ years experience, Eliza has developed a deep understanding and expertise for facilitating change for Luminact’s clients. 

We sat down with Eliza recently to deep dive into what “Agile” really means.  

It might not mean what you think it does. 

How much of Agile is methodology, how much is ideology? 

The first thing to understand is what Agile is not. 

It is not a framework. It is not a set of tools or processes, maybe it’s a methodology? 

Underneath it all it’s more than describing a practical ‘thing’. It’s the doing and the implementation. At its core, it is an ideology. A way, a mindset, and a values system. 

The Agile Onion 

“My favourite diagram” 

Source: Agile-HR

The Agile Onion clearly shows how Agile is an ideology with methodology within.  

Most organisations play in the yellow and the blue areas of the onion, and they’ll say, “We’re agile! We use X kanban software!” (*coughTrellocough*) – but no. You’re not.  

Overarching all true Agile efforts is mindset. This is value-led and principle-driven. It is a way of thought. It’s about how you trust employees to do their work, how you deliver value and not project plans. It filters down to practices, tools and processes.   

There are 12 Principles, if you’re curious. You can find them here: https://www.agilealliance.org/agile101/12-principles-behind-the-agile-manifesto/ 

But these are words, after all. Use the words less – the VALUES that underpin them are a must have. 

Mindset is huge. It’s also intangible. This isn’t why businesses hire Agile Coaches, right? 

Right! 

People tend to think that transformation means throwing it all up in the air. Major change! WAM, BAM, forget everything you knew! 

This completely overlooks that a company still needs to be getting things done, the things that bring the customers and the money through the door to continue to operate. Companies want to do what they are currently doing  but better.  

An Agile Coach needs to know what their client really wants. Often, their surface desire is the tools and processes. Show us the Agile methodology. Give us all the Trello boards and scrums and sprints. We’ll do the rest. Well, not really. 

Organisations can also give a not-quite-defined idea of the ‘value’ they want to reap from the effort to ‘turn agile’ – so it’s up to the Agile Coach to figure this out. 

This is where a lot of people can be set up for failure. 

Balancing transformational change with core business functions. 

Like we mentioned before – a business can’t suddenly stop what they’re doing. 

The widgets still need to be made. EOFY targets met. Even if you do have an Agile Coach running around your office. 

A good Agile transformation coach understands this and arranges their approach accordingly.  

Agile is not about scrambling your company around even if the outcome is indeed going to be transformational. It’s about delivering real value: making things run faster, teams happier, and projects completed with a great deal more effectiveness. 

And coming back to the onion, we see why the tools and processes are just the start. A procedural change isn’t transformational. It may help for a while – but it needs to be valued and supported to work well over time. 

That’s where helping facilitate the mindset shift comes in. And that’s where the deep work of an Agile Coach starts. 

Want to learn more about how Luminact can help? Have a chat today! 

Contact us!

Eliza has over 15 years’ experience in successfully delivering projects in various sectors, most notably within the banking and financial space. She is an exceptional leader who is passionate about what she does and is able to manage and motivate teams ensuring successful delivery and implementation.

You can connect with Eliza over on LinkedIn.

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