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Think of the various agile frameworks that are available. Have you ever wondered why there are so many? If a framework was more effective than others, why are people still creating new ones? In fact, many of the original signatories of the Agile Manifesto are producing new frameworks. In this post, I will give you the silver bullet that guarantees increases to your team’s morale, agility, and production.

The agile cult of personality

With enough time, anyone in the software development space with an interest in agile frameworks will see the cult of personality bias that makes up the agile-cottage industry. If you signed a piece of paper that canonized basic facts about human interaction, but couched within the field of software development, your name is gold. Some signatories have created frameworks and evangelized their way of operating to countless teams and industries. Their fame builds on the people that operate under their framework. They may even build an entirely new framework to compensate for the imperfections of the old ones.

You may also see people previously unknown rise to the top of your YouTube agile feed. The new guard is following the steps of the old: find something amazing, blow peoples minds, and then introduce a “revolutionary” way of doing things. Everyone wants to be that person at the top – the guru. You’ll see them as key note speakers, at meet ups and conferences. People will follow them much like they follow their favorite bands (starry eyes and all).

But here is the dirty secret: No one has the complete answer. No one is going to give you and your team the exact way of doing things so that you will never have any future troubles. Sure, things may work better, improvements will happen, but it will never fully unlock your team’s potential. It’s all a house of cards touting processes and tools.

The proper perspective

The point of this post is not to knock anyone out their making their living as an agile-thought leader, coach, or consultant. The point of this post is to redirect your focus from frameworks, tools, and processes to the root of what your team needs. The values. Each of the agile frameworks touted by agile rock-stars are there to foster your team’s root interactions with one another and their business partners. It’s not about having the right certifications, or following the process perfectly. Ultimately, any one doing these things are only scratching the surface; but those teams will eventually feel empty and unfulfilled over time.

The actual silver bullet for your team

When it comes down to it, what you really need is to do the hard work of discovery within your team. Sure, start with a framework, but then adapt and change it to fit your needs. The reason why no one has ever found the right framework that works all the time is because none of our development teams are comprised of robots. We are all teams of humans that change over time. Each team is unique. I can have ten teams within an IT department, but those teams will not operate the same way. They can’t.

Each team has their own identity, their own preferences, and their own way of doing things. Enforcing each team to perform the same way will only inhibit growth and creativity. The real silver bullet to unlocking your team’s potential is work. You work together day in and day out. You and your team collaborate, discover, and inspect what it is you are doing and producing. Additionally, you negotiate, evaluate, and adjust as time goes on to find your way forward. Many of the greatest companies out there have developed their method through hard work.

This is how Spotify, Amazon, Google, Microsoft and others have succeeded. They did the work, reviewed the metrics, and adapted their process. They started with a framework, then adjusted over time to create their own way of working. In fact, all these companies are continually evolving their process. The Spotify method of years past is, guaranteed, not the way they are working today.

It’s called team work for a reason

So how do you become an amazing team, with an amazing culture, producing amazing things? You build a foundation of values that matter to you. Figure out what is important to each of your team members. Write it down and commit to those values. Then, build a system that reinforces those values. Borrow from existing frameworks, follow one completely, or make up your own. It doesn’t matter so long as it is based from what your team values. Then, over time, evaluate the process and team members. Are they happy? Where can the team increase value? Are they still aligned with the original values? Evaluate and change where needed.

This is the silver bullet. It doesn’t get me a lot of notoriety or money, but that’s the secret. Honor your individuality and uniqueness as a team and go forward and figure it out. Do the work, have the difficult conversations, try new things, and continually evolve. That is how you will find your teams agility. A coach can’t give it to you, nor will a YouTube video or key note speaker unlock it for you. It comes from you and your team’s hard work together.

Thanks for reading. If you want to learn more about the values underlying agile methodologies, look here.

Being > Doing

David Bjarnson

David Bjarnson

David is an agile practitioner for 6 years in various capacities working specifically on software development for a number of different companies. David has his CSM, CSPO, CSP-PO, CSP-SM, and PMI-ACP certifications.

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