Becoming Agile and Lean

Update: Agile Self-assessment Game has been released!

Sometimes I get the idea that everybody wants to be Agile and Lean. But it’s not being, but becoming Agile and Lean that brings you benefits. The journey, where you learn and improve continuously is more important then reaching the destination. Are you ready to go on an Agile trip?

How to become more Agile and Lean?

If you want to become more Agile and Lean, I would recommend to frequently ask yourself the following 3 questions:

  1. How Agile and Lean are you already?
  2. Where do you want to become more Agile and Lean? And why?
  3. What can you do to make a next step

How Agile and Lean are you already?

When you want to become more Agile and Lean, it’s good to find out where you are right now. Many methods for introducing change in organizations assume that you are starting from scratch. In my opinion that’s a wrong assumption. Every person, team or organization is already doing some or more agile and lean practices, so let’s use that as a starting point to change. And let’s use the strengths which your professionals already have to become more Agile and Lean.

The Agile Self-Assessment Game can be used by teams and organizations to self assess their agility. Playing the game enables teams to reflect on their own team interworking and agree upon the next steps for their agile journey. With this game they can discover how agile they are and what they can do to increase their agility to deliver more value to their customers and stakeholders.

One method to find out where you are right now is to use a checklist to do a kind of startup check or readiness assessment. Agile Self Assessments provides a full list of tools that you can use to assess how agile and lean you are. Some of the examples from this list are:

Readiness checks don’t tell you if you are ready for Agile or Lean, my opinion is that everybody is ready. It is a matter of knowing where you are now, and daring to take a next small step in continuous improvement.

Where and why do you want to become more Agile?

I see many organizations that do an assessment and agree upon actions that need to be taken, without a good understanding where they are heading and what will be the benefits. Not knowing why you are doing things will hamper your improvement program! As a fact, it’s very important to know the result that you need; the goal that you want to reach. Finding a lot of solutions is easy, but selecting the right solutions is difficult if you don’t know what your organizations needs right now, and why it’s needed.

The next step:  A Journey

Some may say that becoming Agile and Lean should not be the goal. I agree with that, Agile and Lean aren’t silver bullets, but their practices can help you to become more effective and efficient in what you do. Which leads to shorter lead times, lower costs, and higher quality. Agile and Lean frameworks support exchanging experience, and help to learn from each other. They are a shared language, that helps us to re-use all kinds  of wheel that have been tried and tested, in stead of inventing new ones. So if you want to get quicker benefits,my advice is use what is there already, and start your journey today!

(This blog was posted on sep13 2012, and updated in 2012 and 2013 by adding self assessment tools. Update sep 12 2013: a full list of agile/lean tools is now maintained at Agile Self Assessments and updated July 10 2017: Agile Self-assessment Game added).

Ben Linders

I help organizations with effective software development and management practices. Active member of several networks on Agile, Lean and Quality, and a frequent speaker and writer.

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