The blindfolded tight-rope walker

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Dec 22nd, 2010

Recently, on the LinkedIn Agile CMMi group, Virendra Kumar kicked off a discussion with the statement “Agility is balancing flexibility and order” asking for others to elaborate.

As you would imagine, many contributors were focussed on CMMi; however it reminded me of an analogy I like to use: that great agile practitioners are like tight-rope walkers, able to walk the line to achieve their goals, making very complex skills look effortless and even fun.

For me, one of the joys of agile practices are that they reconnect us with others, with a shared vision, and with a focus on delivering.

However, when we’re introducing agile practices for the first time, it can feel precarious, risky, even dangerous. Especially to those used to being in control (or at least used to the feeling that they are in control).

When the blindfolded tight-rope walker stumbles and falls, it’s all too easy for people to shout “see, I told you this agile thing was risky, it doesn’t work, let’s stick to what we know works“.

So, what you were doing before worked, eh? As the New Zealand ad campaign for Tui beer always adds, as an undertone … “yeah right“.

Of course, we want to ensure success, so why do so many individuals and organisations start their journey toward agile practices as if they are fumbling blindly in a darkened room to find the light switch. There are so many ways that people can get a helping hand. There are thousands of articles online, hundreds of books, and many talented coaches who are willing to spend the time to ensure that those first steps on a pilot project don’t end in a mess. Some will even give you the odd free consultancy ‘chat’ to get you going.

If you’re interested, get in contact.

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