Social Systems Agile

While you can see Agile as a machine - a proces flowchart that delivers value with roles, meetings and artifacts - I think it is more valuable to apply systems thinking and see the social system of people that interact, collaborate, deliver and learn together.

I want to contrast two perspectives on Agile:

  1. Agile as a machine: The Process Perspecive
  2. Agile as a living organism: The Social Systems Perspective

Agile as a machine: The Process Perspective

You view the team or organization as a value creation process. You view the world as predictable and controllable. The key to success is a proper implementation of a best-practice process (i.e. Scrum). Sure, the process may be adapted somewhat to the organisation, and it might take a few iterations to get things right - but a controlled, step-wise implementation of the best-practice process remains the backbone of your operation.

Key areas of focus:

  • Roles
  • Meetings
  • Artifacts
  • Process flowchart

Agile as a living organism: The Social System Perspective

You acknowledge the Volatile, Ambgious, Uncertain and Complex (VUCA) world we live in. You view the team or organization as a Complex Adapative System. In this system, humans are the elements, and their relationship are the interactions. As every action creates a complex reaction, skillful intervention requires continuous sensing and responding. Improvement is not a stepwise journey from A to B, but a dance in which you nudge the system towards a new equilibrium.

Key areas of focus:

  • Team coaching
  • Developing skill in problem solving, decision making and collaboration
  • Cultivating empathic and generative listening
  • Systems thinking