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Tom Marien

Passionate .NET/Node Developer, Team Leader, living in Belgium

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The illusion

After trying waterfall for many years, many companies started some form of agile project management. They searched for project managers/scrum masters to reshape their entire business. Assuming that enforcing a process onto their existing teams, would form the basics of their company’s future.

Most of them will be stuck on exactly the same issues they had before: lack of communication, job protection, no collaboration, ivory towers or just the employees still holding on their ‘good old’ habits of doing years of waterfall.

The religion

In many ways, an agile process is comparable with a religion. When all of the members of your ‘church’ are non believers, you can only try to convince them. But probably it will take a while before they actually start believing and act as true believers. They need to devote themselves to the religion. They willingly need to want to believe, switch that big button in their heads and change their lifestyle.

But having one or two true believers can help achieving that goal quicker. The true believers are equals of the non believers. They talk after church, get together in their free time and maybe even discuss about the religion. At some point they have to potential to become the role models and hopefully it will rub off onto the others.

The reality

I am working as a developer for more than a decade now. I’ve doing continuous integration/deployment, test-driven development for more than 7 years. I like to talk to business about what i understood from their analysis by showing them the draft of the feature up until it’s completion, so i can react better and faster to what they actually want. I try to listen to fellow team members, try to assist in getting as much job done in the least amount of time and with the best quality possible. Work together, with one or two people, on really difficult features.

And just recently (3 years ago) someone told me that i am agile or that I have an agile mindset. These last years, agile went from something people talk about to everyday routine. It has become an industry standard. For me, it is just common sense, in the same way then the underlying principles of a religion.

If the industry could just stop seeing agile as a process and start perceiving it as a state of mind, a way of working, that can be supported by a process. Putting the focus to where it belongs, to the team responsible for the project. So pick team members with precision, because a team that fits together will be a good producing one. But most important, put a couple of ‘true’ agile practitioners in the team.

I believe it’s time for a new era, the era of the Agilean, the team member(s) with the agile mindset, the ones that can put the theory into practice.