Agile Trends 2020: Introduction and Part 1 – Individuals

Every year, we see all kinds of peoples and organizations from boundless industries and verticals post the top innovations in their specific area of expertise.  While I value these writings, they always seemed to be focused around pushing a specific product line or driving people toward their services.  This next set of 3 blogs attempt to be different.  Many of the thoughts here are based on what several of my colleagues and myself have experienced in 2019 and what we think might be the trends that 2020 will bring.  We’ll also arrange this into three population themes (and thus the three blogs) that the agile community should be focused on – Individuals, Organizations, and Communities.

Individuals

“Clients do not come first. Employees come first. If you take care of your employees, they will take care of the clients.” -Richard Branson.

Individuals are obviously the core of our organizations and communities.  We will be seeing changes in several key areas this year because the individuals and team members are on the front line of change.  What is driving these changes?  First, there is the stronger push and pull by senior leadership in agility.  More and more CIO’s, CTO’s, SVP’s etc., are fully bought in and have done a better job building guiding coalitions at the C-level.  This brings the need to push through other impediments and empower more agilists within the organization itself.  Second, we have crossed the chasm in agile coaching meaning I think we are seeing some oversaturation of people who claim to be agile coaches.  Third, people change.  Sounds overly simplistic, but the fact is that most of the times organizations respond to people changing, not the other way around.  That all being said, here we go on the top three changes coming to individuals in agility for 2020.

Diversity of Agile Coaches.  What I don’t mean by this is diversity by age, national origin, or the like but rather a moving away from the “lone ranger” agile coach that is a know-all, be-all professional.  Let’s face it, we will be “eating our own cooking this year” as the landscape of organizations continues to grow in complexity and we as agile coaches have to focus in on areas of expertise.  This will be a year where we will need to learn “mastery” and teamwork if we are going to succeed at moving the needle at our organizations and within our communities.

“Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.” – Helen Keller

Continued growth and drive of agility through non-Agile Coaches.  This prediction might upend our community, but it needs to happen.  We have not only been the light bearers for agility, we have become the only folks who know about agility (or at least that is many of our communities’ attitude).  For our organizations to be successful, more development leads, software engineers, HR specialists, UXUI designers, and such need to and will become more drivers of agility, DevOps, and other lean practices.  Because this is birthed out of doing, the passion, drive, and ability to affect change will be high and will impact our organizations more effectively. Agile coaches have the ability to coach organizations not to need them solely but this take courage. In 2020, I believe that many will see the light that they cannot carry the burden of agility on their own. There are no more “lone rangers.”

“I’ve been promoted to middle management. I never thought I’d sink so low” – Tim Gould

Middle Management’s time for decision.  When we start talking about roles, some folks get defensive.  In this case, we are talking about a needed wake up call for those whose sole job is to check the job of the people that report to them or define the work of their team members.  As agility stops being an “IT thing” and continues to grow into a whole-organization way of working (more on this later), we will see more leaders question the work of these middle managers.  Even at large Fortune 50 organizations, the idea and concept of someone watching over team members is becoming a thing of the past.  If you are one of those folks, what does 2020 hold for you?  Some of you are really good at the jobs you tell others to do and can get back into that!  Drive for changes to the way you are incentivized!  Others are great leaders and innovators and there is place for that in the growing “product” culture (I’ll talk about that later too).  You are valuable for who you are, but your old role is just that – old.

What do you think?  Do you have any other key trends you see coming to individuals this year?  Do you agree or disagree with these?

Check back next week for Part 2 around organizational trends in agility for 2020.

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