Reimagining Agile at JAFAC: Back to basics and forward to the future

The Reimagining Agile workshop at JAFAC was a remarkable event where the New Zealand Agile community came together to discuss, problem-solve, and envision the future of Agile. Our session was framed around the idea of Reimagining Agile, emphasizing that a single document can no longer effectively represent the diversity within the Agile community.

We questioned the continuing relevance of the Agile Manifesto, crafted in a time of dial-up internet, without smartphones or AI, in today’s rapidly evolving world. While acknowledging that Agile solved the problems of its time, we recognized that today we face new challenges that require us to evolve and reimagine our approach.

Gathering at the JAFAC conference in Wellington, we set out to reimagine Agile in New Zealand and contribute to the global Reimagining Agile movement.

The workshop

Sixty participants split into small working groups to discuss specific questions and then shared their findings with the larger audience. The discussions were framed by several key questions, including the following:

  • Reimagining Agile: Five years from now, what does it look like? (AI, societal changes, changing markets, etc.).
  • What needs to shift?
  • What has changed in the last 23 years? What has changed in the last three years?
  • What are the stories we’re telling ourselves that we need to question?
  • What are we not seeing? How are we not Kodak?
  • Why do organizations find Agile so challenging? Do the same challenges still exist? What are new challenges?
  • What have we lost & forgotten? What do we need to bring back?
  • What’s useful? What behaviors do we need? And how do we recognize those behaviors?

Key discussions and insights

We had insightful conversations in all our sessions. One session stood out for me in particular: “What are the stories we are telling ourselves that we need to question?”

In this discussion, we focused on the narratives we tell ourselves in the Agile community that need questioning. Here are some of the narratives we came up with:

  • Agile will deliver better productivity
  • Agile is easier with dedicated teams
  • You shouldn’t compare teams
  • If only the CFO trusted us…
  • You need a transformation to learn Agile
  • You need a leadership buy-in
  • Velocity = Value
  • We need certain roles to be successful
  • Agile belongs in IT 
  • We can’t consistently deliver value if we don’t know what is on the roadmap
  • We can measure Agile teams with the same measures we use for other teams
  • Each team needs to be able to work autonomously
  • The workforce can only be Agile in an engaging environment
  • We need certain ceremonies
  • Agile requires co-located teams to be effective
  • Regular feedback from customers, stakeholders, and team members is essential for continuous improvement and alignment
  • Leaders need to be facilitators who empower teams 
  • Maintaining high technical standards and prioritizing good design is key to sustaining long-term Agility

Reflections and next steps

The Reimagine Agile workshop helped us frame constructive questions and brought together diverse voices to have real, meaningful conversations about the future of Agile. The format worked well, fostering genuine dialogue. 

We encourage you to run your own Reimagine Agile workshops in your organizations, at your conferences, and in meetups. (Contact me if you’d like to have guidance.) These discussions can help shape the future of Agility, ensuring it remains relevant and effective in our ever-changing world.

Let us know in the comments if you can add to the narratives we need to question or if you have thoughts on any of the other questions! And don’t forget to head over to the Reimagining Agile website to join the movement.

This is an Agile Alliance community blog post. Opinions represented are personal and belong solely to the author. They may not represent the opinion or policy of Agile Alliance.

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Picture of Sandy Mamoli

Sandy Mamoli

Sandy Mamoli, originally a professional handball player representing Austria in the 1992 Olympics, transitioned into a technical role at Sony Ericsson after earning a master’s degree in Natural Language Processing. In 2007, she co-founded Nomad8 in New Zealand, establishing herself as an Agile Coach for companies like Trade Me, Snapper, and Southern Cross Health. A keynote speaker at prominent Agile conferences globally, she also co-authored Creating Great Teams in 2015, emphasizing high-performing Agile teams and…

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