Agile for Life

Class of Kiev June 2011

What does Agile mean to me?

Agile is a means not an end. It’s a means to improve the way we work to the benefit of individuals, teams, organisations and society itself.

Agile paves the way for a great adventure of personal and professional renewal, helping us improve our existing skills and develop new ones.

Agile takes us out of our comfort zones and teaches us how to adapt to change. It enlarges our comfort zones only to take us out of it again. It’s beyond survival. It’s about self-actualisation.

Agile is about being a “forever apprentice“, someone who begins as a student and becomes a teacher while remaining a student. A forever apprentice applies the principle “the best teachers make the best students and the best students make the best teachers”.

Applying Agile

I’ve been applying Agile to what I do for some years now, from delivering projects at work to projects at home. I pack in all the practice I can get. The way I use Agile is constantly changing through improvement experiments. Always learning. Always improving.

Applying Agile and being agile has helped make work fun and engaging. Again. Do you remember the very first day of your very first job? That’s the enthusiasm and energy I strive to re-create every day. For myself and for others. Some days, I give myself a day off.

Every day’s a new day when you’re trying to be better than you were yesterday. I’m improving, one baby step at a time. Sometimes the steps are so tiny that they’re invisible to the naked eye, but I can feel it, like a new shoot about to break through the ground after rain.

I don’t like to admit it, but I know when I’m getting complacent. A little voice in my head tells me, “You’ve been there, done that, seen it all, what’s the big deal?” That’s when I sense trouble. How can I know it all and still be constantly improving? Unless I’ve stopped, of course.

Evolving Agile

When people find out that I’m an Agile Coach (one of my many roles) they tell me, “Of course you want to make everyone do Agile, you’re an Agile Coach and that’s your purpose”. To which I reply, “If we do Agile right, Agile will evolve itself out of existence and something new will appear to take its place.”

As for my purpose, it’s to create opportunities and options to help us make the most of our potential, leveraging what we’ve got and increasing it day by day. I do it for me and for us. Agile is but one tool out of many that makes this possible. It helps to get the conversation started.

What does Agile mean to you?

5 Responses to “Agile for Life”

  1. Laurent Hausermann writes:

    I have recently run a blog post series called “Be agile on die” (in French)… behind this extreme title, I keep saying that “Agile” is more a way of seeing things and at least its life : it’s the idea that the most important thing on earth is to be able to move forward, to be “mobile” in your head….

    Great post !


  2. Andre writes:

    Hi Portia,

    you wrote: “I’ve been applying Agile to what I do for some years now, from delivering projects at work to projects at home.”
    If it’s not to personal: to what kind of projects did you apply Agile at home? Something like doing the laundry? Or was it restricted to software projects?


  3. Paul Beckford writes:

    Hi Portia,

    Remember me? I really like this post. It says alot about you. Thanks for sharing.


  4. admin writes:

    Hi Paul,

    Sure I remember you! Many thanks for your feedback.


  5. admin writes:

    Hi Andre,

    I try to use Agile whenever I can to get in the practice! I’ve used it to plan and deliver my wedding and home-shopping, all sorts in fact. For me, Agile’s a mindset shift and a very versatile tool. I’ve yet to find a precept where Agile (applied effectively) doesn’t deliver more value faster at less cost.


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