Experimenting with Agile: Context is key

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  • 3 min read

There are 12 signs of the zodiac. Here in the UK we have a population of over 60 million people, so on average there are over 5 million people for each star sign. If we all read our horoscopes, would we expect that 5 million people would all have the same day?

My organisation is not your organisation, my team is not your team, and I am not you. Even if we work in the same industry and are trying to solve the same problem, is it likely we will take exactly the same approach?

The answers to both questions are of course, no. We all have a different context and so we interpret what we see, what we read, and how we act very differently. Our work environments are different too. As such, the way we think about how we work, how we work together, and how we decide what we work on, will also be different.

The Agile manifesto and its 12 supporting principles help us to think about those three things: How we work, how we work together and how we decide what we work on. They were created by 17 different people from different places, all of whom worked in different ways using a variety of frameworks. They acknowledged and accepted those differences with the values and principles they defined.

It’s therefore fair for me to say that something that works in my organisation may work in yours, but it’s also true that it may not. How I use frameworks and tools may differ from how you use them. Again, this is perfectly acceptable, if not likely, because my organisation is not your organisation, my team is not your team, and I am not you.

Learning from others and applying the values and principles in their way can be useful, we must also accept that it may not work in our organisation exactly as it does in theirs. This isn’t a failure of Agile, nor is it a failure of your organisation. It’s simply evidence that your organisations are different, and that context is key.

Don’t rely solely on others to do the thinking for you. Interpret and experiment with Agile for yourself. Focus on the fundamentals before diving into complex concepts and tools.

No-one knows your context better than you. No-one is better placed than you to define how you work.

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