Becoming agile! But how?

After years of productivity increase through standardization, we now arrived in a dead end. The formal requirements pollute the actual work more and more. The creation of a plan became the central task of project management. Thus, the fulfillment of the standards increases the work load. The introduction of agile actions promises a way out. Based on the agile manifesto work is deregulated. The following values put the emphasis on the left side of the table, even if the right side remains important.

Individuals and interactions
Working solutions
Customer collaboration
Responding to change


processes and tools
comprehensive documentation
contract negotiation
following a plan

Most people already understood the need of dusting off the currently overwhelming formal requirements. We will become more agile. But how?


Let’s look at four alternative ways.

  1. Revolutionary
    Either one of the other is carried away by the conclusive perspective. These zealots dream about the possibility of introducing the agile values by shifting a lever from today to tomorrow. Since in a running company initiatives are continuously accomplished and the employees are not able to simply change their work style, this approach creates stress and a high risk for the fulfillment of the initiatives. Eventually the current and newly started projects are shaken by incompetency. They fail thereby.
  2. Evolutionary
    Less decisive people desire a smooth transition from classical to agile methods. However, employees work in different projects. If one takes place in a classical and the other in an agile way, the load of the change has the individual employee. Beyond that, the responsible people of the overall portfolio can only manage parts, since agile projects do not provide the relevant information any longer due to a lack of an appropriate planning. To what extent agility could be slowly implemented that way remains to be seen.
  3. Need orientation
    Pragmatics expect the possibility to install the one or the other procedure punctually, the way it appears most useful. Individual building blocks of a venture are selected for using agile mechanisms. A team of agile experts could take care of these tasks and exploit the advantages in the context of classical projects. The challenge is the interface to the classical activities and their bureaucratic needs – the clear direction, specific components and results.
  4. Separatist
    Some enterprises create a parallel playing field for the new ideas. On the one side projects are classically completed and on the other side accomplished agilely. In the long run the better one may win. Those parallel universes mean to the employees that sometimes they are included in the classical, bureaucratic environment and sometimes they have to cooperate agilely. The good news is that the employees can participate easily in the agile world. To what extent the classical projects are thereby contaminated in the short and medium term should be observed.

Bottom line: The introduction of agility is an extensive cut into the established practices of an enterprise. The roles of the employees, the reporting duty and the planning of individual and cross-functional projects are changed in the core – off taut clarity, towards flexible, trustfully cooperation. The solution is again the focal point of work, any more the formal administration. No matter how you decide, you should make clear, how to cooperate as well as to provide corresponding training courses for the employees.