Monday, October 28, 2019

Change via Directed Evolution

We all agree that – Change is the only constant. 

Yet, no one’s ever ready for it? Let’s get ready for this constant.

Change is everywhere and its pace is accelerating with every passing moment.  Change is occurring in every aspect of business – markets, regulatory, and technologies. Change is very evident in how people like to be treated by businesses. Have you heard the term – Knowledge worker?  Due to a shift from repetitive work to craftsmanship and focus on innovation, a culture shift is required in the way the businesses treat their workers and customers. Workers need a more inclusive environment – focused on learning, individualistic expression, and growth opportunities. Customers want newer and shinier features availability sooner and businesses must have their feedback.

Can businesses expect these changes mere by changes in processes and practices keeping the culture the same? I don’t think so. Organizations need to change at a fundamental level – how are they organized, how do they treat their employees, how do they treat their customers, how do they treat their vendors or partners? How the contracts are structured?  How the communication within and outside the organization is structured? How are products marketed and sold? Every aspect is changing.

Can you leave these changes to evolution; after all, evolution was able to bring intelligent life on this planet? Do you have a time of billion years? Then, what is the solution? A solution lies in directed evolution using our intelligence. Is your organization ready for directed evolution? 

What is Agile?

Agile movement started by visionaries of Software development. With time, it has evolved beyond the IT and engineering departments. Agile is now organization-wide. Business Agility is not something new. So, what is Agile in today’s context?

Agile is a cultural movement which emphasizes numerous small feedback loops involving all levels of organizational hierarchy as well as customers/consumers; continuous learning; evolution of business, technical, and inter-personnel practices; exposing pain points early to mitigate them early; focus on the outcome by working toward continuously  increasing effectiveness, efficiency, & productivity at sustainable pace; predictable and resilient; evolving polices & practices; and early involvement of stakeholders to ensure continuous delivery of business value in a sustainable manner.

The very definition of Agile encourages a fluidic work culture, negates rigidities of any framework/methodology, and endorses the absence of ubiquitous best practices. Agile is very context-specific. 

A hierarchical organizational structure increasingly acquires rigidity with the scale which poses challenges to be Agile at the core. Also, the environment in which an organization operates demands a high level of predictability which is very much against continuous evolution.

A successful organization keeps a balance between rigidities arising due to hierarchy & demands of predictability and continuous evolution which has no end state. To maintain this delicate balance an organization should adopt contextualized, compose-able, and bite-size Agile methods and practices. It must be ingrained in organizational mind-share.

Thursday, October 24, 2019

Semantic Journey of Agile

In the year 2006 Martin Fowler invented a new word “Semantic Diffusion”.  He described the new word as: 
Semantic diffusion occurs when you have a word that is coined a person or group, often with a pretty good definition, but then gets spread through the wider community in a way that weakens that definition. This weakening risks losing the definition entirely - and with it any usefulness to the term.
 In one of his articles, he argued that the term “Agile” is a victim of Semantic Diffusion  (
Let’s try to understand at what stage of semantic life, is the term  Agile now.
In 2001, a new word was coined– “Agile”.  It was confined to the values and principles espoused in the Agile manifesto of software development.

By the year 2006, the term “Agile” was reaching far beyond the traditional software development space, with the human aspect of the software getting more weightage. Also, Agile started to get traction in the maintenance work. 

This picture clearly depicts the signs of Semantic Diffusion.
In the year 2019, Agile has become popular in Marketing & Sales, Budgeting, Human Resource Management, touching almost every aspect of organizational life. 

I am sure this image clearly points toward overloading.
What next? Does the term “Agile” has Rock Star syndrome – live fast, die young? Or, something else is happening. 
In my view Agile is moving toward the “Semantic Expansion”; you can blame me for neologism.  Semantic expansion occurs when overloading leads to fragmentation of word via various suffixes and prefixes to define similar situations as espoused in the original meaning of the word, in various contexts.
For example Agile HR, Agile Marketing, Agile Project Manager, Agile Organization, Agile Project Manager, Agile Budgeting, Agile Team, etc.


On similar lines, DevOps lineage can be traced with DevSecOps, NoOps, DevOps Engineer, etc.