• Niel Magsombol

True Agile Transformation: An Agile Mind

Updated: Jun 4, 2018


Agile is the buzz word nowadays. CEO's, leaders, managers, developers, etc. love using this word. In my experience, what they really mean is that they want things faster. Webster's defines agile:


1. marked by ready ability to move with quick easy grace

  • an agile dancer

2. having a quick resourceful and adaptable character

  • an agile mind

I am part of a great team as a thought leader that is trying to bring about an agile transformation at a very traditional Fortune 100 company. We can train and certify scrum masters & product owners and implement many different frameworks & practices: stand ups, sprint plannings, using kanban boards, etc. Those are all good, however we can be quite rigid with how these practices should be implemented. Arguments can ensue over over tasks vs user stories, estimating in story points vs no estimations, what an epic really is, etc. I have no problem with sharing what we believe are best practices, and healthy disagreements can help growth. However, if we become too rigid in whatever practice or framework, I believe we lose sight of the essence of agile: being adaptable.


I admit I can be quite rigid about anything and everything. Ever since I was a kid I loved having plans and doing my best to stick to that plan. It didn't matter if it was sports, martial arts, school, or relationships: I had this mindset that since I was very diligent about having a plan, and would get tunnel vision and work very hard to execute that plan, things should work out the way I had planned. Anything that was remotely contradicting my plan, I would lash out. However, life and especially people, had a funny way of not wanting to follow my plan. When would that happen (which was quite often), I would get extremely frustrated and discouraged. This waterfall-ish approach to life gives us a false sense of security for those of us who like to control things and are quite risk averse.


It took me years to realize that even with tremendous amount of data, technology, and blog sites on the internet, it's impossible to account for every situation, every variable we could encounter on our jobs, hobbies, or life in general. I realized that we can and should have a vision for our lives, and plan as best as we know right now. However we have to be able to "respond to change, over following a plan." Our plans should be well thought out, yet flexible enough to respond to change. Agile is all about having iterative cycles where we plan, execute, & learn, then take what we've learned from responding to changes, re plan, execute, learn, and rinse and repeat. I believe its when we respond to change that we can truly learn, grow and develop, not only as professionals, but more importantly, as people. I believe this is the greatest benefit of any Agile Transformation

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