Making Agile a Reality®

Today is an interesting day. Back in January 2009 I decided to apply for registered trademark status for the phrase “Making Agile a Reality.” Today I found out that the trademark registration is complete and Agile For All now has a registered trademark. So instead of “Making Agile a Reality™” we will start to use “Making Agile a Reality®.” I am quite excited, but also a bit humbled by this.

I am humbled because I feel having this registered trademark implies being able to deliver upon it’s promise. Agile For All has been doing so since the company was formed, but now it somehow feels a bit different. I know this is silly because nothing really has changed, yet I can’t shake the feeling. I think I LIKE the feeling, it is just different for me.

Now, how to add value for others to this blog post? I think a discussion of why I chose “Making Agile a Reality” as a slogan would help others understand the specific issues I see in the industry, and hopefully help them avoid those issues!

First of all, the phrase was chosen because it kept bringing me back to the real reason Agile For All exists.  It isn’t to make money (although it does), or help promote me as a speaker (although it does), or to just give people knowledge about agile (although it does).  The real reason Agile For All exists is to help teams and companies use agile effectively!  Too often I saw teams failing because they were taught how to do agile, but that was the extent of their knowledge.  As any agile practitioner would tell you, it is important to not only know the practices (the hows), but also the nuances behind those practices and the reasons they work.  It is important to know how to recognize and fix problems which arise from implementing new practices.  It is important to get help through the rough patches.  I saw too many teams learn agile and then not succeed.  My goal with Agile For All is to help teams be truly successful with agile, not just teach them how to do it and then stop!  For those of you who may be considering an agile transition, make sure you recognize there is a high cost to doing training without ongoing coaching.  There is even a higher cost to doing those ineffectively or in a way where you become dependent upon someone else for your success.

Reason number 2 for the “Making Agile a Reality” phrase is to help potential clients understand my mindset about helping them.  I feel it is important for any successful agile transition to start with the knowledge it is not only possible, but highly probable the team will be successful.  Teams MAKE agile a reality, it doesn’t happen by accident!  It is hard work, continuous improvement, transparency and a host of other things which work together toward success.  It isn’t just sending someone to a simple agile training course and then expecting them to lead the team to agile success.  Again, if you are thinking about an agile transformation, remember how important it is for the team to believe it is the right course of action so they will give it their best effort.

Lastly, I like “Making Agile a Reality” because it helps me do the right thing.  I have seen some organizations make a lot of money from some clients because they sold the client what they asked for instead of what the client needed.  I’ve seen coaches embed within teams to such an extent they couldn’t be extracted without causing the team to fail.  I’ve seen trainers teach various flavors of agile courses because it is what they had, rather than partnering with others to provide what was really needed.  All of these things are done because it helps the vendor make more money, or they just didn’t know better.  By using the phrase “making agile a reality” I hear “provide what the client needs to be successful with agile.”  This is very important to me.  My reputation is built upon success, fairness and delivering exceptional value.  The above scenarios wouldn’t bother me because I go back to “making agile a reality” and quickly recognize the futility of those approaches.  This is part of the reason I helped form the Agile Cooperative.  By pro-actively partnering with other fantastic organizations I know I can help make agile a reality no matter what a client really needs in order to be successful.

So a bit of advice for those of you who are thinking about moving to an agile process:  concentrate on the results, not the steps to get there.  Understand the costs may be higher than you expect.  Grill potential vendors about how they will help ensure your success.  Ask a lot of questions and don’t move forward until you get the answers you need.

Until next time I’ll be Making Agile a Reality® for more clients by remembering the reasons I applied for registered trademark status in the first place!

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  1. One sign that agile is a reality would be that most people who claim to “do agile” in some way, understand the values and principles enough that, when they tailor a “pure” approach, they don’t lose the benefit of the approach in the process. Inspect and adapt, not have obstacles and abandon.

    1. Scott, you are absolutely correct. I have written a couple of times on the difference between what I call dogmatic and holistic agile approaches. This blog post is one example. People get too stuck on the specifics of what is or isn’t agile and forget that at the end of the day they need to deliver value! I’ve even seen dogmatic agilists say inspect and adapt is fine for the product being created, but not for the process itself! I really spend a lot of time in my courses making sure people understand the values and principles you mention. Thanks for the comment!

      – Bob –