Agility: The Key to Success


A threat looms over the world of software development. It is called Agile and it can destroy the software development world as we know it, taking us with it.

Now, you might be asking, “Isn’t Agile the thing that will solve all of our software development problems?” So, let me explain this a little more.

You are probably familiar with one or more Agile frameworks — Scrum is the most popular of these, but there are more. What do most of them have in common? They started in the IT department and since their birth they have not left IT, becoming something we, IT professionals, enthusiastically talk about, but what others don’t really understand or care about.

This has led to many people needing to sell Agile. And, because a mindset or a characteristic are difficult to sell, they are mostly selling agile as a methodology or a process, regardless of how wrong or damaging that is. This has, in fact, become one of the biggest problems of “Agile-as-a-methodology” or “Agile-as-a-process”. By many, it is seen as a goal in itself, not as a way to achieve true business goals. And, just like proponents of traditional methodologies are obsessed with time, scope and money, proponents of Agile are obsessed with purity, cleanliness, by-the-book or according-to-this framework. Needless to say that neither of these help in delivering something valuable for the customer.

So, let’s go back to the roots. If we want the new ways of work to succeed, it is imperative that instead of focusing on Agile we focus on agility (as opposed to Agile) — a characteristic of an entire organization that focuses on customer, is able to change quickly based on what happens in the market, leverages the power of networks and emphasizes value-delivery structures.

After all, the Agile manifesto, which is now a historic document, is very clear on what we should value:

  • individuals and interactions: the ability of the people to connect and deliver things together, regardless of where they are in the corporate hierarchy,
  • working software: the emphasis on delivering working — usable, useful, beautiful, simple — software for our customers,
    collaboration of the whole organization with our customers: the drive to solve real business problems and understand what our customers want, from the business down to the last developers,
  • ability to respond to a change: the possibility to grasp a new market opportunity quickly and also to stop working on an opportunity that is no longer valid.


Are we a company that holds these values? I bet we are. So, let’s not wait for managers and leaders to lead the way — that is old thinking. Let’s think — each and every one of us — about how we, in our teams, could partner with our business colleagues and how we can together make MSD the place where agility is harnessed for the benefit of all of us — the employees and the customers.

And, if you are an experienced agile practitioner (or you just embrace the agile mindset), why don’t you consider becoming a part of our growing team of agilists?

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