What’s Next for Agile?

Let’s take a look at the agile manifesto. It starts with:

“We are uncovering better ways of developing

Next are the values. I’m not going to bother with the “right” side, which is of course the “dark side”. On the left we have:

  • Individuals and interactions
  • Working software
  • Customer collaboration
  • Responding to change

All this is very nice, and the last 2 even touch on the fact that there’s a customer involved. But where does it say that the customer gets what he wants?

In the Agile Tour conference, Mary Poppendieck presented “It’s not about Working Software after all” in her keynote.

Mary talked about the next inflection point in agile – getting back the customer focus. “Agile” until now was about the processes and tools that improve software development. These now have to align with the business goals of the organization –  provide what the customers need.

How does the alignment happen?

Throughout the organization, people need to understand exactly how their work solves their customers problems. Mary gave an example of Southwest Airlines – the ground crew can turn around planes consistently in less time than any other airline company, The crew understands that planes on the ground are waste. They understand that there could be a family member waiting for the plane they are tending to.

This kind of motivation starts at the top and trickles down to people who do the work. This is a cross organization alignment.

So far, “Agile” has created bubbles inside the organization. Self managed teams did their best to produce working software. But it’s not enough.

Can “Agile” make the next leap?

3 comments on “What’s Next for Agile?”

  1. Stefan Roock Reply

    I would “But where does it say that the customer gets what he wants?” replace with “But where does it say that the customer gets what he needs?”

  2. Gil Zilberfeld Reply


    You probably right. Although sometimes what the customer actually needs and wants are the same thing 🙂


    Thanks for the comments.
    True, the original thinking behind all agile methodologies comes from a way to make customers happy. And yet I dare you: how many people will actually say that? How many people actually practicing scrum will say: it’s about the customers?

    At the AgileTour conference, the only one who mentioned customers was Mary Poppendieck. All other presentation on succesful agile implementation (case studies, open sessions, state of agile) did not. Is the customer always in mind?
    They are definitely not in the forefront.

    So if we (the agile community) he don’t talk the same talk as the business management, we’re not aligned. And we need to get back to the customer.

    Shocking? I agree.

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