Agile is a Tool Box… and a Very Huge One at That!

Consider modern Agile as a delivery philosophy.  Here’s my hypothesis.  Agile is an approach on selecting the best tools for your culture and product.  No one set of tools or even approaches will work “best” for any given engagement.

If you don’t agree, then don’t and you can stop reading now.  It won’t hurt my feelings.  Really.  Otherwise, please take a moment and consider the state of business today.  In some ways, it hasn’t changed as much as people think.  The changes are simply faster.

Consider the ideas as stated in the Agile manifesto (  For each enterprise, every project is unique where one set of tools won’t work necessarily as well as another set of tools.  It’s funny that even experts within the industry, those who have gained the title “Agile Coach” often still believe that there is a “one size fits all” strategy for companies.  That’s simply not true.

Of course, finding the right tool set for your business and project is the real challenge.  Size of the business, company culture and what is already in place take a strong play in what choices you have in choosing the tools and processes in delivering.  Also key influencers are the industry and company type you are in.  A health care company has different objectives focusing on patient privacy, security and care.  A software company focuses on bringing a product that will produce the biggest revenue base.  A consulting company looks to maximize engagements and relationships to bring the most value and profit to their client base.

Since there are a myriad of combinations, my thoughts go into the “guidelines in creating guidelines”.  I like the Mike Cohn approach to blogs and try to bring home one key idea to a blog.  This key idea is continuous improvement.  Never settle on accepting the status quo and always look for better ways to deliver.  If you are in an organization that refuses to change and you are happy with that, then this blog isn’t for you.

Best way to find out on what could be improved is to do the following:

  • Have an “experimentation mentality”
  • Read and explore new approaches
  • Follow key industry leaders
  • Fail and learn fast

These should be relatively self-evident, but I’ve been surprised time and time again how many people who are in leadership positions (and everywhere) get “caught up in their own approach” and become stuck, whether due to pride, ignorance, frustration, apathy or {choose your own emotion} and never improve.  That is the start of the end for that business and granted it is much harder for a 100 year old company to change than a 1 year old company, so it isn’t easy folks.  However, you either move ahead or fall behind.  Over the long term, there is no staying still.

Published by Agile Mike

“Agile Mike” has over 25 years of experience with software development and product leadership. He is published under the “Built for Success” column in magazine and held the position of Vice President in the Agile Leadership Network. Michael has taught multiple SAFe courses for over the past three years to over 400 people and is currently an Enterprise Agile Coach at Lean Agile Enterprises and a certified SAFe SPC5, AWS Cloud Architect, Scrum CSP, and PMP.

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