Do you use Facebook because of all its cool social tools or do you use it because your friends and family are on it? What is more important to you—Twitter or the tweets? What do you value more—YouTube or the videos? What
Not to say that Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube aren’t essential tools that help you interact with others online. To be sure, these tools have enabled countless online social interactions that would not have been possible otherwise. But it’s safe to say most people value the online social interactions themselves more than the tools that enable them.
This same preference is expressed by authors of the Agile Manifesto in their first core value:
“Individuals and interactions over processes and tools…Although there is value in the items on the right, we value the items on the left more.”
If your goal is to introduce Agility to your mobile strategy development, it is more important to build a strong Agile team and foster an innovative environment than it is to have the right tools and processes. You can “do Agile” with any of the Agile tools and processes commercially available today, but it takes a passionate, dedicated, and motivated team to “be Agile.”
Tools enable your team and help bring out their best work. Tools make it possible for them to do more and to do it faster. Tools should not introduce complexity and frustration but should always be intuitive and easy to use. An Agile team should always remain focused on what they are doing, not how they are doing it.
Process may be useful for conformity and consistency, however it should not be used to govern teams that strive to be different. Applying too much process to an Agile team can restrict creativity and hinder that team’s ability to innovative. Agile teams should be encouraged to think outside the box instead of being contained by process. Governance may be more appropriately applied to other teams who have difficulty getting—and staying—organized.
More important than tools and process in the formation of a strong Agile team is the gathering of motivated individuals. Those individuals who are passionate about the possibilities will thrive on an Agile team. Bring together those individuals who seek engagement, who want to participate, and those who recognize that there is strength in numbers.
The next step is to endow the team with ownership and the authority to make the right decisions for your strategy. Give them the chance to organize themselves and trust them to get the job done.
Provide the team with every opportunity to solve problems together, bounce ideas around, collaborate on plans, set collective goals, be accountable to each other, and then encourage them to high-five, fist-bump, or simply praise one another for every accomplishment.
These are the personality types and interactions required to lead a team to Agility. This is not to say the tools and processes aren’t important, rather that they are merely a means to get there.
The same can be said for Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. It is the individuals who contribute and interact on these social venues that make them valuable. The social platforms themselves only gave us a way to fully realize their value.
Scott Abate is a certified Agile practitioner and project management professional at digital business solutions provider Anexinet with over 25 years of experience delivering software development and information technology products and services.