We know that high performance organizations have a clear purpose that inspires workers.

The shared purpose is the goal everyone works toward.

So where does Agile fit in?

Is Agile the Goal?

Take a few moments to pause reading and reflect:

Is Agile a means or the end?

If you think that Agile is the goal, you are likely introducing conflict and setting up for failure.

Agile is not the Goal

Agile is a means to an end. Agile is not the goal. The goal is serving the purpose of the organization as best as possible.

Since Agile has many beneficial aspects, there are many organizations that can use Agile to serve their purpose. Agile is how we serve the purpose of the organization.

Agile as Goal = Damage

One of the biggest challenges facing the Agile community today is that we believe that Agile is the goal. It’s not about Doing Agile or Being Agile, it’s about serving the orgs purpose. Even the Agile Mindset just points us to healthier ways of being in order to serve the orgs purpose. The Agile Mindset is not the goal either.

When we have Agile as a goal, we create tension in the organization between Agile and the organizational goals. We see this all the time with an Agile change initiative that has different objectives and metrics than the managers who are running the organization!

Read More: Don’t Weaponize Agile

How to Make your Agile Initiative Succeed

A critical success factor for your Agile initiative is that you drop “Agile” as the goal.

Replace Agile with an initiative to serving the organization’s purpose. When we do this, it allows people to talk about what will lead to success – not about rules or dogma. When we do this the organizational resistance that we create with our Agile Transformation start to fall away. As it happens, we are actually the ones creating the resistance in the first place through our pushing. And push is not part of Agile, pull is.

It’s totally OK to have an Agile initiative as long as it is there to serve the organization’s goals. 

Here is how it works:

  1. When we stop having Agile as the goal, we, we stop pushing Agile.
  2. When we stop pushing Agile, organizational resistance to Agile disappears. 
  3. This is how we start to avoid Agile Failure.

See: “Why Agile” Workshop for one way to create organizational clarity.

Agile Transformation Keys

How to Promote Agile

Success with Agile requires that we drop Agile Evangelism.This unwavering faith in Agile as the best and only way is causing harm to our industry. Evangelism is a push. Evangelism creates resistance.  It prevents us from listening to what organizations really want. Once we listen to what organizations want, then we can help them with Agile as a means.

We need to coach and consult to support growth and solve problems – not push Agile.

Success is more Important than Agile

What’s more important – Agile or Success?

Don’t get me wrong: I love Agile. I am advising you to drop Agile because I want you to succeed. Success requires us to look at the bigger organizational picture and embrace it.

Health Checklist

Here is a checklist to see if Agile may be a goal. Do you have …

  • An Agile Transformation Program
  • An Agile Centre of Excellence?
  • Agile Evangelists?
  • Different metrics for Agile and for regular business work?
  • Agile coaches and managers being asked to achieve different things?
  • People talking about Doing Agile or Being Agile instead of organizational outcomes?

If you answered “yes” you may have fallen in the trap of having Agile as the goal.

What you can do now

  1. Get clear in your own mind that Agile is a means, not the end.
  2. Watch your words and behaviour for signs of seeing Agile as the goal.
  3. Clarify what your organizational goals are.
  4. Look for ways Agile can support organizational goals.
  5. Rename and relaunch your “Agile” initiative

This stuff works!

Where to Learn More

Join me worldwide for my unique Certified Agile Leadership Experience (CAL1) to learn a detailed playbook for how to deliver high performance in your organization.