Heart of Agile or how to get beyond the hype

Written by Pierre Sinodinos, on 17 April 2019

Pierre shares his opinion on the current trend of agility in the business world.

Passionate methodologist for twenty-two years. I still remember Christophe Lerouge's feedback at the beginning, saying, "He has it in his blood!"

I've always been aware of the cyclical nature of methodological approaches. Initially, the approach is confidential, then it gains momentum until it becomes a trend; all companies are tempted to follow it. At this point, the approach itself loses its meaning. We focus more on the business of the method and appearance than on being or transformation.

Why do companies choose Agility?

Some companies choose the methodology for image reasons, taking detours, if not distorting the initial meaning of the method. Obviously, there's no ROI guaranteed! Naturally, the "late adopters" then find it easy to criticize: "If that's all, we can give it any name, ISO... RUP... CMMI..."

We are at the peak of agility. Some companies adopt it for good reasons (increased motivation, increased value produced, adaptability, etc.), and others for bad reasons, just because it's trendy, like offshore in India twenty years ago. When it's done for the wrong reasons, there's no time to delve into the meaning, values, and principles conveyed by Agility.

Sustainable pace, putting humans at the center, respect, trust, transparency, collaboration over competition – these are just words. Rarely have we made the effort to connect all these concepts. Of course, Post-it notes and Scrum boards are everywhere. But the increase in the number of engaged employees since the last GALOP survey hasn't really skyrocketed. There are pockets of agility with happier and therefore more engaged developers, but it's quite limited.

The Agile Blues...

Some can already see the downside, the return of the Agile wave. Just like for ISO, CMMI, and ultimately all trends... It's to avoid such disappointment that Alistair Cockburn suggests going back to the heart of Agility to fully benefit from what it can bring and remember its fundamentals.

In France, we are known for our centralized, directive, paternalistic, top-down management, completely at odds with agility.

It's still time to hoist the Grand Foc* and set sail full speed towards agile values, let go of what we have known for decades, command and control, to enact the most complex change: transforming ourselves first.

As an Agile 3.0 Management Trainer, agile-scale facilitator, Scrum CSP, SAFe SPC, eXtreme programming, Kanban, Pierre has significantly increased employee engagement and motivation, coupled with significant gains in productivity, predictability, and quality in the companies he has worked with.


  • The "foc" refers to a triangular-shaped sail at the front of a sailboat. This sail is held by its stay, along which it slides to be raised. Two sheets attached to one of its ends allow for changing its orientation and shape to adapt to the wind direction and sea conditions. When a sailboat has a set of front sails to adjust the sail area to the wind's force, the foc refers to an intermediate surface sail between the storm jib (storm sail) and the genoa (large sail). The foc contributes to propelling the sailboat but also plays a crucial role in the success of the tacking maneuver into the wind. (Source: Wikipedia)