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Harmonizing Agile and Traditional Ways of Managing
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Q: Agile ways of working are often seen as the alternate approach to what organizations are doing now, making it harder to embrace them. Is it possible to adopt and embrace select Agile principles within the current ways of working?

Author Darrell Rigby responds: You make a very important point. In fact, your suggestion is exactly what we recommend. Agile should improve the success and happiness of everyone in the organization—from frontline associates to senior leaders. Agile ways of working are not threatening or frightening; they increase the success of innovation, help manage changing priorities, accelerate time to market and increase team morale. To quote an old but effective commercial for Alka-Seltzer: “Try it; you’ll like it!

Something I like to do with business leaders is to create lists of their five most successful innovation projects, five that fizzled and five that they should have pursued but never really did. Then we discuss the patterns of success and failure. Inevitably, the discussion highlights the value of Agile principles and practices—but within the context and language of their own business, not in Agile jargon. Executives quickly realize that not only is Agile compatible with their current ways of working but it is actually the best way to improve them.

Changing mental models and habitual behaviors takes practice, but it is highly rewarding. If you and your team are not having fun with Agile, you’re not doing it right.

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