Stephanie BySouth | Agile Outliers are never in, no matter how cool agile inliers think they are
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Agile Outliers are never in, no matter how cool agile inliers think they are

Being at the frontier of an agile change movement can be a hard place to be. There is an old saying that rings true for many cavalier agilists out there and that is “That the first man through the wall is the bloodiest”.

Or for the geeks in us –  think Star Trek and having to go into the Borg alone. BUT instead of having the most awesome of weapons, scotty to back you up, an amazing crew to rescue you at the last minute and a counsellor to help you cope from the post traumatic stress all you have is your self!

So how do you cope? How do influence a revolution? How do you teach the assimilated to become un-assimilated and start to think for them selves? Especially how do you engage those who don’t want to be freed from the systematic rhythms of the Borgs that they are now an effective component of?

One day at a time, one sticky at a time, one conversation at a time you will erode the cubes of the systemic organisation…What does help is to cause the change, the erosion with a team of bots working together across that system to weaken it’s key strong holds. Unfortunately, what can happen at the initial stages of agile adoption is very much the ‘born again’ blind euphoria. This euphoria experienced by those that are baby agilists is wonderful to watch, and really quite enjoyable to experience because you are literally going through a rebirth of you working world. The world that you knew no longer has to be, and a professional freedom is being embraced.

During this infant stage unfortunately the definitions of value are still not matured so ‘adopting agile’ is purely about winning faster within the old systemic metrics of time, hierarchy and cause I said so – NOT because they are actually driving customer value. I say unfortunately because what happens is those bots become annoying bots, they just want to win according to their boss, win according to the old paradigms and are not excersing the agiles values of collaboration, individuals & interactions etc over plans, documentation or exclaiming or awesome lean principles are without actually practicing.

This is why I call them inliers – they are part of the in / cool new agile movement and those who are truelly addressing the tough questions, highlighting waste that could be eliminated for example are still outliers. These wonderful authentic characters that appear in our professional world deserve to be nurtured for there ‘whistleblowing’ for they are the true heros of the agile frontier.