Doing Agile vs Being Agile for Non-Hippies

If you ever wanted to shoot yourself when an Agile Hippie said “You can’t just DOooo Agile, you need to BEeee Agile” I feel your pain. For years I avoided the doing/being chant. But it kept chasing me.

If you are “BEING Agile” without “DOING Agile” you’re really just sitting around meditating. This is what business leaders fear, though I’ve actually never seen this happen in a company.

If you are “DOING Agile” without “BEING Agile” you’re going through the motions. And when something doesn’t work, you have no tools to adapt it so that it will work.

“Just tell us what to Do, we don’t need all this Theory”. Most businesses today are ‘DOING’ places. They ask me to just tell them what to do, a checklist and a roadmap would be great. They don’t want all this BEING crap. If I just tell you what to “DO” without talking about ‘being’, two things will happen.

  • It won’t be perfect the first time and you’ll throw it out. If the exact practice I choose for you, out of thousands, doesn’t work right out the gate, you have nowhere to turn. I’ve lost my credibility because my practice didn’t meet your expectations, and you have no tools to adapt. Your best bet at this point is to lurch from expert to expert in a desperate search for a practice that works the first time.

  • Someone will suggest an alternative practice. When a replacement for the savior comes, people are frustrated and feel overwhelmed with the changes. This seems like the ‘flavor of the day’, ‘why do we keep changing?’ When people don’t understand what the practice is trying to embody, it’s impossible to experiment as a group. This is why people say change is hard. Change is hard when I have no idea why we’re changing and you’re just telling me different things to ‘do’.

Pair your ‘Being’ with some ‘Doing’. It’s really about connecting the BEING and the DOING. For each “being” (or Mindset) concept, you should be pairing a “doing” or practice. I’ve started sharing all practices in the context of the mindset. For example, “Retrospectives are a mechanism for the continuous improvement mindset”. If you don’t like retrospectives, we know we need to find another way to implement continuous improvement otherwise you won’t continuously improve.

Brain Twist. If you’re reading this, I’m going to assume you are highly evolved. Please go help your peers connect the dots between being and doing. Be gentle, be kind, and go do it.

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