A number of people have asked me in recent times,”Why AgilePx?” and its prompted me to properly put down in writing what has been swirling through my head for years!
I grew up on the west coast of Scotland in a small village in Ayrshire just a mile away from the haunting castle of Portencross. It mean means literally just that – “Port and Cross” – where “It is said that Portencross Castle was the last resting place of the great kings of Scotland. Legend has it that they were transported via the castle on their way to Iona, for burial.” But burial in those days was not seen as the end, but rather transformation to the next phase of existence in an after life bigger and more important than the one they have left behind.
I’m now on the other side of the world in a city with a population nearly larger than the whole of Scotland(!) but to this day I haven’t found somewhere as beautiful – when u can see it through the rain – or as profound and deep with history as the kyles leading up from the Firth of Forth. If you can make it sometime, go to this relatively unknown place in the world , it also has the advantage of distilling some of the best whiskys ever that are worth a visit all on its own…
So thats the “Px” bit! I have been in the “Agile” space in some form or other since the words agile started being bandied about. I came through the IT trenches in the 1990s after a superb grounding in computer science at Edinburgh University and even then was involved in early pre-cursors like RUP (Rational Unified Process). I was lucky enough to fall into the world of Java when it was still version 1.0 and you could get the whole platform on a floppy disc and a tiny brown book.
I’ve worked in organizations large and small, from Denmark to the USA and now in Australia as a permanent employee but also significant time as a consultant and contractor. Over the last decade I moved out of the IT front line and more into the business side, running large initiatives and realising that there are no “IT Projects” anymore but rather business problems to be solved and customer value to be realised and quickly. I find it fascinating how similar the problems are world wide and how easy it is to move around as with common problems there are also common ‘languages’ on how to approach it. What has changed though is time. Twenty years ago, running an initiative for a couple of years in a single big bang launch into the market works fine and the competition was doing the same. Now you need to be able to bring an idea to fruition in some form or other in months – this has profound effects on the traditional way of running an organisation. Even Microsoft has now abandoned the big release with Windows 10 being the last major release and they are now moving to a fast incremental delivery cycle. So whether its Agile, Business Agility, Lean or Design Thinking or a combination of them all there is a clamor and a need to do things different in a world that has fundamentally changed.
Recently I completed my SAFe Program Consultant (certification and training with Dean Leffingwell (@Deanleffingwell) and Context Matters (@MarkAtScale) in Sydney. Probably the main area I had to disagree with him on was that he described the Agile movement as having recently “Crossed the Chasm” and that while a couple of years ago we were standing on one side of the gorge sending intrepid explorers over to the other side, some falling in with their bodies piling up at the bottom of the valley, we were now at the other side and making real strides forward and it was time to up our game. That might be true in the USA, however I think there is a long way to go in Australia before that is the case here. There are a number of large organisations that have made the leap in recent years, some I have been a part of, others many of my friends and peers have (its still a small community doing this!). They’ve had various degrees of success and failure and in some respects its like the waves on a beach that they get so far then roll back and need the next wave to take them forward the next incremental step. I’m struggling to think of a single large organisation in Australia that you could point at and say “yip, thats it, they’ve made it“. Thats not to say it isnt the right thing to do – as it is! – as the world is not going to slow down any time soon and give us all time to sort ourselves out and be ready to engage. It is just that this is really hard, it challenges decades worth of embedded culture and processes and in my opinion is going to take 10 to 20 years to really take hold and become part of larger business DNA. We are still fundamentally standing on the bank looking across to a different world sending pioneers and explorers out on expeditions.
So I believe my role in all this is to be somewhat of the ferryman rowing the boat across that divide to the new way of working and mindset that we need to embrace (harking back a thousand years through my background and culture to a different transformational journey). In many cases I’m working with experts in the field who have far deeper experience than I in their particular areas or are extremely high level leaders, executives and owners, but I try to guide and give them the skills to find a route over to this new way of working. Whether that is individual or team coaching, training, presenting, actually doing the work as an Agile PM, running a large scale transformation or a combination of all of them I try to tailor what I can fit as there are many ways and paths to cross this divide. Its a fun, exciting, frustrating, exhausting but ultimately fulfilling role that I’d highly recommend to people up for a challenge and wanting to do something meaningful.
Thats why its “AgilePx“….