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  • Paul Pilling

Agile is dead.... long live agile!


I wrote this article on LinkedIn a few


years ago so thought would also share on here I still think it resonates well.










So, as an Agile delivery manager, you may well be thinking why on earth would I put something on here that looks like career suicide?

These thoughts are based on my experience and musings over the last 15+ years of being involved in change.



Everyone knows the story of the Agile manifesto and its birth in the Nevada ski lodge with its 4 values and 12 guiding principles. But is that how today's organisations, who adopt Agile as their preferred delivery approach for transformation, are operating?

Although that may have been their intention, what invaria


bly happens is :

  • a statement is released informing that they are adopting Agile, to deliver the programme of change.

  • delivery colleagues are sent on a series of courses or Agile coaches are hired to assist adoption.

  • they maintain the 'as is' governance, release processes and reporting schedules.

  • they fail to address cultural changes required to create a successful Agile environment.


They then stand back like Dr Frankenstein, waiting for that lightning bolt to bring their monster of stitched together parts to life. Putting their trust in this ungainly beast of change, and hoping it will ultimately deliver the transformation programme.

Yet, as a result of its stitched together parts the adoption will usually grind to a halt or worse be stopped. The result of this is inevitably a post-mortem, striving to identify the reasons why the failure occurred. Often the cause of death is diagnosed as one or more of these factors;

  • they didn't adopt the 'right variation', be that Scrum, Lean, XP, DSDM, or any other new silver bullet version.

  • they di


dn't hire or develop the right skills to build the multi-disciplinary team.

  • their organisation and their products and services were not suited for Agile delivery.

They then revert




back to their old ways until the next 'digital transformation programme' is required.

So, is Agile


really dead?

I think it depends on your perspective. Some may feel Dr Frankenstein failed. I would point to the fact that he created life, just not as he intended. If he had adopted Agile he would have said the


monster wa


s his prototype, sought feedback and improved his next version. Yet, like the failed adoptions out there he was not given that chance.

For Agile, we maybe at the stage where we are talking about switching off the life support, or hoping for a miracle cure.

I am of the opinion that the answer. like Agile, is simple in its essence.

I feel we need to go back


to the origins of the Agile manifesto and remember what brought about its birth.

  • Lets get back to understanding what the problem or opportunity we are trying to solve or deliver is.

  • Lets work together to produce and deliver a solution quickly.

  • Lets stick to principles around quality and simplicity of code to maximise potential for re-use and minimise error.

  • Lets seek feedback continuously from customers and users to drive the next iteration.

  • Lets enable and empower our teams to deliver, by giving them the technical environment needed to maximise success.


Lets commit 100% to creating the right cultural environment to enable delivery, removing the stigma of failure and promoting innovation.

  • Lets remember that Agile is an approach and a culture with principles and values at it's core, rather than a methodology or process with rules and stage gates to adhere to.

Lets stop creating the monster and let him walk off into the sunset.

Lets stick to the purity of the Agile manifesto, it's principles and values to ensure it continues to live on.



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