“The word ‘agile’ as been subverted to the point where it is effectively meaningless,” wrote Dave Thomas, one of the 17 original signers of the Agile Manifesto.
First drafted as a manifesto for software development by software developers in 2001, Agile as a methodology has since spread business-wide.
An organization called AgileSherpas recently released the “2018 State of Agile Marketing” and reported that 37% of marketers report using some form of Agile to manage their work. 61% of traditional marketing teams report plans to start an Agile implementation within the next twelve months.
And yet, ask a dozen marketers what Agile means to them, and you may hear a dozen (or more) definitions, replete with descriptions of tactics (like stand-up meetings) or buzzwords (like “scrum” or “kanban”, or even “scrumban”). As with many buzzwords adopted in marketing, the hype can sometimes overshadow actual practice.
I like this recent observation from Mark Ritson:
“Whenever I hear a client cry out for greater agility I wince, because invariably they are intent on jettisoning even their vaguest strategic principles for a roll-with-the-punches approach to planning … Agility is useless without strategic thinking.”
Here are a few related cartoons I’ve drawn over the years.
“The Art of Project Management” February 2018
“Stage Gate Innovation” January 2015
“Fail Fast” November 2010
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Ted Simon says
TRUTH! Thank you, thank you, thank you, Tom.
Two key quotes sum it up for me: 1) “As with many buzzwords adopted in marketing, the hype can sometimes overshadow actual practice.”, and 2) “Agility is useless without strategic thinking.”
“Agile” is a means to an end. But the “means” always needs direction. The fundamentals still apply – Objectives lead Strategy, and Strategies lead Tactics…in that order. And, whether one is “agile” or just plain ol’ dedicated to achieving one’s goals.