[In the spirit of the ThoughtWorks Tech Radar, I publish my own personal realtime Agile-Consulting Radar. In addition to expanding the blips on the radar, you can find more detail on each in my editorialized glossary.]
This update has a plethora of new tools — and a few old practices — to help organizations and teams work in our current remote-first — or is it remote-only? — and ongoing VUCA world. And it contains some holds — and even avoids! — for long-held agile sacred cows, like user stories and feature-based road maps, sure to provoke some raised eyebrows.
Ubiquitous Remote Work
For the last five months, organizations have been forced into remote work whether prepared or not, and the foreseeable future will require facility with ways of working that are fit for this purpose. This has predictably led to a burst of new tools into the market, many of which are worth a try, and perhaps unpredictably to a rediscovery of venerable practices, like the Core Protocols, Team Agreements, Personal Kanban, and Pomodoro Technique, that enable remote and asynchronous work. Our remote world also requires that we sense and respond to how our teams and colleagues are doing, so competencies like anzeneering and facilitation, along with metrics like Total Motivation and Engagement, are key.
Rethinking Conventional Agile
From velocity to user stories, backlogs to points-based estimation, no agile cow is too sacred to be slapped with an avoid label. It may be time to refactor your agile work processes with the original intent of the Agile Manifesto in mind. That includes an orientation toward value, which is why traditional feature-based roadmaps are out and outcome-based roadmaps are in. The agile community has perhaps finally come to grips with our environment, namely that we typically are working in complex rather than complicated domains, which is why competencies like Experiment Design and Systems Thinking and Sensemaking are blips.
As Klaus Leopold writes, “Agility of an organization is not about having many teams,” but “agile interactions between the teams.” To that end, the radar includes a few blips to support organizational or business agility. These are practices, like Operations Reviews, Leadership at Every Level and Flight Levels — and tools like X Matrix — that create aligned autonomy and connect action to strategy throughout all level of the organization. Speaking of all levels, the radar also contains a couple of items related to scaling, including guidance for unscaling or descaling.
It’s About Flow
Quite simply: Focus on practices, competencies, metrics and tools that enable flow: Flow management, Throughput/Delivery Time/WIP, iterations as checkpoints (rather than planning boxes) and blocker clustering. Avoid practices and metrics that inhibit flow, such as multitasking, high utilization and unlimited WIP.