What I like about Modern Agile is that it shines a light on what really hurts today, beyond the traditional focus on pumping out software features. Modern Agile aims to understand how we create value. Here’s how: Someone has to love what we create (”Make people awesome”). And for us to succeed we need to feel safe and reduce the risks involved (”Make safety a prerequisite”). Since we cannot figure out in advance what people really need, the way to go is to carry out a great number of experiments. That’s is basically all Modern Agile is – but that’s a lot!
Since its birth, the agile movement has engaged software developers but relatively few others. To face the challenges of today we need to involve all parties in the business surrounding the service or service eco-system we are developing. It is the co-operation of all these people that needs to be agile.
Unfortunately, the Agile Manifesto doesn’t really speak to people outside software. It was and is still an amazing story. A call to action that gave birth to a movement that changed the whole software industry. But as a platform for today it needs to be extended. Modern Agile is a good initiative that has gained recognition over the last year.
In his blog post My Take on Modern Agile, Joakim Manding Holm challenges the two vertically positioned sections of the Modern Agile model, i.e. ”Make people awesome” and ”Make safety a prerequisite”. The sections I want to discuss are the other two: ”Experiment and learn rapidly” and ”Deliver value continuously”. I view them as two sides of the same. The one goes with the other. When launching a service two things happen: 1. you get value, and 2. you learn a lot. Or you fail – and surely there’s valuable learning in that too.
What I feel is missing is an important element from Design Thinking movement: Empathy. This principle means going out into the real world to gain understanding of the problem space before narrowing on a solution. Walking in the users’ shoes. It’s about continuous learning that fuels the array of experiments we want to make so that we can view the services we create in use and learn from what we see.
Or the same thought put in other wording: Discovery and Delivery. ”Discovery” (to study a problem space) and ”Delivery” (to make a change). Together these make up a continuous organisational learning circle, well-known amongst those who are studying how organisations evolve effectively.
In my opinion Design Thinking offers some of the most important ideas to adopt in modern development work. Before and during every initiative. It’s a way to find both the opportunities and the problems that we need to address. Make sure you have these skills in reach for every development initiative because every kind of development initiative can gain from the Design Thinking perspective.
So, in my version of Modern Agile, I would let the insights of Design Thinking complete the circle in some way. I believe the discovery/empathise part is too weak in Modern Agile as it is now. We could adopt into the agile movement what we have learned in other fields today.
To conclude, I think Modern Agile is a very interesting approach and hope it is a start on something that will grow and mature to an expanding community. Maybe in the future, the agile movement can join the user experience movement and others and learn how we can make users awesome in a safe way, via empathy and experiments. In my eyes, this would indeed be a good future.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on this. Do you also like Modern Agile? Do you think the empathise/discover parts should be strengthened?