May 10, 2023

Agile enthusiast or agile utopian?
Are you an enthusiast or a utopian?

Slađana Čuljić, Senior Client Delivery Manager
An enthusiast learns by experience, they are positive and believe in the possibility of achieving goals and improving things within the given framework. A utopian can be skeptic regarding the current state of play and is always looking for new solutions, believing it is possible to achieve an ideal society based on a completely new perfect system.

In my job, I was told many times that I am an agile enthusiast, especially in the past few years while working on projects where an agile approach was challenging to implement, leaving little room to be yet even enthusiastic about it.

Where does my enthusiasm towards agile come from? I will try to explain it using a simple example.

Imagine working for a soft drink manufacturer who wants to integrate a recognizable car in their holiday campaign based on the best-known global soft drinks company and their red truck.

If I would give you the task to draw this vehicle, providing even a solid set of instructions, it is quite likely that you would ask at least a few more specific questions, assuming you want to draw the vehicle as truthful to the idea as possible. However, even after having your questions answered, it is highly likely that your drawing would not exactly depict the vehicle that I had in mind.

Rigidity and understanding

I want to avoid criticizing any methodology, but the example above shows the importance of continuous participation in the development process and what a possible outcome could look like when working with such a framework. No matter how many questions one asks, it is hard to truly understand someone else’s requirements, and without additional and ongoing corrections, defining requirements and delivering the final product would be a process probably doomed to fail. The numerous projects that were never finished or finished unsuccessfully give reason for change and higher agility.

Agility does not depend on tools but rather on flexibility, collaboration and fast iterations. The approach is based on continuous human contact and understanding the basic values and principles.

One of the fundamentals of agility is based on the questions what and how, which when answered, give us more clarity and a better understanding. It automatically leads to a higher-quality end result. Through collaboration and frequent checks/adjustments, we minimize the risk of failure, i.e., we provide the biggest value based on the given parameters.

And even in a system like this, the thought of utopianism within the agile framework can be misleading. An agile utopian needs to let go of the rigidity of their approach and lean towards principles and values that are not limiting and restraining.
mockup featuring-a-man-with-a-magazine-3390-el1

Agility is freedom

Drawing on their personal and professional lives, many people mistakenly believe that agility is the same as utopianism, while agility is actually a limitless state of mind, a special way of thinking, defined by its own rules and values which are freeing with no restraints. What is especially important for people is that agility is a real process that has a beginning but no ending. Agility teaches us to redefine the knowledge we gained through hands-on experience and make use of the mistakes we make to create better systems, and that’s how we learn to respect all the different varieties of different examples, situations, people and characters in professional relationships and communication.

Utopianism seems like a done deal, the final stage. As long as there are people, there will be progress. That’s why I could not place myself anywhere else other than in the category of agile enthusiasts, those who move forward and use barriers as steps. From sprint to sprint, I apply agile principles and enjoy the adjustments and adaptations.

To anyone who is at the crossroads between enthusiasm and utopianism, I would recommend to think about the quote of the creator of SCRUM, Jeff Sutherland, who famously said “Done is better than perfect.”