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What’s Next?

A curious look at the possibilities of agile

Agile has been around for a few decades now and most companies have adopted it to at least some level. Naturally, it’s time to think of what comes after agile. In a recent virtual lean coffee, a global group of agile practitioners discussed the topic and this post and publication is inspired by the feedback from the session, aiming to answer the question.

Just when we thought we knew all the answers, they changed all the questions.

After some contemplation on the subject and a long walk on the beach, three words stand out for me which summarizes all our insights gained in our discussion into one.

Integration, design and human. Here’s my thinking explained.

Integration. Coming together.

Nothing great has ever been done alone. Two heads are better than one.

Two of the most discussed items in our virtual get together was around blended learning — a coming together of technology and human instruction, and agile without borders — an adoption of traditionally software development practices into non-software development industries.

Less focus will be on the tools, more emphasis on why it works and the mindset around it. Mainly, I see the emphasis shifting from an ‘or’ to an ‘and’ perspective, as I discuss in a post dedicated to the subject which you can find here.

Integration of agile tools and an agile mindset. Integration of currently silo’ed and separate departments into a ‘whole’ organization. Integration of software development into each aspect of the business, rather than a separate function. Working together with equal partners in win-win relationships, where competition is seen as helpful resources.

Design. Lateral thinking and art.

The most exquisite expression of a beautiful mind is good design. It marries two of my favorite domains, namely problem solving and art.

Design is about making something functional beautiful, usable, enticing. Inviting and delighting a user to share an experience. Adding technology to the equation augments reality as we know it into a richer, more beautiful, more sensual experience.

Until now, the emphasis of agile software development has mostly been on the functional aspects and making things work in a specific, standalone area. A user story is a flat, 2 dimensional view on a tiny slice of a much bigger pie and the answer to most problems were to add more.

More functions. More options. More tools. More choices. More people.

Yet, what distinguishes good design from great, is less, not more. Great design is niche. It’s simple. It’s intuitive. It’s exquisite. It’s unique. It’s not merely repackaging Skype, calling groups channels and rebranding it as Slack. It’s not creating yet another Trello like board with one or two aspects that is different. Great design takes your breath away. It’s the beauty and simplicity of Apple. It’s the useful delight of Nespresso machines. It’s the seamless integration of beautiful Wave Apps.

The future of agile is crafting technical solutions that delights, increasing the feedback loop between product owner and team, putting more emphasis on design as a problem solving tool as apposed to mere aesthetics.

Human.

Above everything else, the future of agile is more human. It transforms human resources into people and teams. The main difference between a human being and a robot is emotion. The future of agile includes emotion and moods and individuality in the professional environment, not only an aim for an ever increasing velocity.

It cares.

It cares about the impact of decisions on the team who has to do the work and the users who have to use it. It cares about the environment. It cares about sustainability. It cares about uplifting and giving back to the less fortunate.

The future of agile aims for balance. A balance between work and play. A balance between productive times and rest. A balance between conflict and harmony. A balance between personal and work lives. A more wholesome environment where each time you do something, you really ask yourself whether what you are doing is putting people over processes and tools.

Conclusion

Agile is maturing fast. What’s next is currently being defined and it is up to each one of us to shape the direction of agile.

I want to live in a human, healthy, happy world.

A world where technology augments my experience and connects me with people across the globe. A world where I am able to breathe fresh air and have fun earning a living. A world that is free from senseless rules and regulations. A beautiful world where people can express their individually in the work that they do, because work is passion with purpose.

The future of agile is a blank canvas. What are you going to create?
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