You might have heard the term Agile before. In short, it is a set of practices designed to deliver values of maximum customer satisfaction, team collaboration, and flexibility.
This makes it an awesome choice for today business world. The market is not a static but a dynamic entity and it carries many unforeseen challenges. Agile is able to respond to these in timely manner, and even to profit from them. It invites continuous innovation, mixing speed with just enough discipline. It sports all the attributes of trust, courage, fun and creativity that modern world employers would want to see driving their employees.
In Agile, change is not perceived as a risk but as an opportunity. Its practices benefit work habits of teams and individuals all over the world and I count myself as one of those who believe that they have the same potential for our everyday lives.
To understand how Agile can be implemented in out-of-office setting, let’s translate a few terms:
- Customer = you
- Project/Product = your life or a certain aspect/s of it
- Customer satisfaction = the delighted you
- Collaboration = the way you ‘work with’ or manage yourself (you want it to be driven by harmony rather than by conflict)
- Flexibility = how you deal with XYZ things you want to work on + your chores + your ad hoc appointments + all the things life throws at you without actually going insane
- Continuous innovation = your constant re-invention and self-improvement
- Trust = you can count on yourself to deliver what you commit to
- Courage = allow yourself to make mistakes (in Agile you want to fail often so that you learn often)
- Fun = do it like you like it and because you like it, not because you must (in other words, know your why)
- Creativity = let yourself do things you’ve never done in ways you’ve never tried
Agile makes sense for everyday reality because it is a response to the way that everyday reality works.
How is this?
It is as a sum of numerous Complex Adaptive Systems (CAS).
Let’s imagine a family, for example. The CAS theory explains that agents of a system (family members) interact together and connect with each other in mass of apparently random and unpredictable ways. Some regularities naturally emerge from this mess and start to form a pattern (behavioral, emotional, social, etc.). However, if something changes (eg. new child is born), then the whole system needs to adapt to that change in order to ensure best fit and form new patterns. These new patterns impact other systems in the environment and make them change too (workplace needs to adapt to maternity/paternity leave of an employee, etc.). The changes are a constant process and are called co-evolution.
There are some simple principles to how this happens:
- the family won’t waste energy on finding better solution than the one that solves the situation
- the greater the variety within the family, the stronger the family is within the bigger system (ie. a group of alike thinkers is not as viable as a group of diverse thinkers)
- no matter how many different patterns can be identified for the concept of family, the rules governing the function of it are simple
- family stops being family if it loses its internal dynamics and ability to form adaptation patterns
- families are nested within other families, and within many other systems
This is just one example. Complex Adaptive Systems can be seen literally everywhere and in everything. By understanding them, we can take advantage of that we are a part of them.
The Next Step
Agile recognizes that systems need to evolve as needed in order to fit the environments that they are part of. In highly unpredictable environment that we exist in, Agile is an adaptive approach that encourages individual creativity and believes that it is the key to dealing with uncertainty.
It puts focus on what is important now, and then moves to the next important thing. No time and effort is wasted on perfection. Once the problem is solved, the focus moves where it is needed next.
It responds to complexity while staying simple. It is also charmingly visual.
It addresses uncertainty and stress generated by high expectations.
I am a detail-oriented perfectionist, so all of the above often represents a problem for me.
This post is a starting point for my blog and aims to provide a basic theoretical background for my decision to write about application of Agile to everyday life. Next, I am going to share my personal experience, some practical steps, hints and tips on how to take advantage of what Agile has to offer.
Questions For You
Have you heard about Agile before? If yes, what is your experience with it?