Posted By: Cheryl Rodgers

Agile states "Individuals and interactions over processes and tools". How can this align with the process driven methodologies and their use in Process Improvement and Transformation efforts? A fuller understanding of Agile reveals that the Agile Manifesto and the Agile Principals do not ask that one give up processes and tools and only rely on individuals and interactions. Instead, they require that the emphasis be on people and direct interactions – think Gemba – and the processes and tools be used only when your interactions have given you a clear understanding of the individuals' needs. Then you use the processes and tools in a more thoughtful and targeted way.

This emphasis on people over tools was driven by the tendency in software development to get a large set of requirements and then disappear for weeks and months creating software. It is akin to the Business Transformation practitioner who does a series of interviews across the value stream at the beginning of the effort and then builds out the new organization and value stream by staying locked away in an office doing comparative analysis. "Our extensive and proprietary data sets show that most organizations in your line of business have 17% fewer employees in their finance and treasury departments. Here are the areas you should cut those heads from to complete your Transformation". That is wonderful advice if you happen to be exactly like "most organizations in your line of business". An Agile approach requires that you spend enough time interacting with the individuals that you know and understand their user stories, you understand why they have a larger finance and treasury department, and you and the client have a clear and flexible view of what the transformed process looks like.

So be deliberate in spending more time with the individuals and less time with your tools and PowerPoint decks. You may find that the time spent away from the tools result in more effective use and significantly better results when you do apply them.