Remember the law of conservation of energy which is one of the basic laws of physics and therefore governs the microscopic motion of individual atoms in a chemical reaction?

This law states that energy can neither be created nor destroyed; rather, it can only be transformed or transferred from one form to another.

An example would be when a moving car hits a parked car and causes the parked car to move. Energy is transferred from the moving car to the parked car.

Let’s see how to extend this to agility, which is the success mantra for all organisations, large and small.

Energy is defined as the strength and vitality required for sustained physical or mental activity. You cannot manufacture this strength. You harness this energy by eating healthy food. Similarly, you harness agility through some healthy practices and by inculcating the mindset in every action of yours.

Junk food and steroids also give you energy but we all know that the long term effects of steroids outweigh the short term benefit that they provide.

Similarly, fake Agility through junk food does more harm than good. An example of such fake agility is camouflaging a project manager as Scrum Master! Another favorite is to use a tool like Rally or Jira for creating user stories and feel that we have gained the muscle power of agility! The quality of those user stories is a topic of another discussion! These are examples of applying labels of healthy food on the same old junk food. Agility is really about changing the food that you eat and the way you eat it.

So, back to law of conservation of Agility. Can one manufacture agility? I strongly believe that one cannot. What one can definitely do is condition the mind continuously to focus on:

  • Individuals and interactions over process and tools
  • Working (prototype) over comprehensive documentation
  • Customer collaboration over contract negotiation
  • Responding to change over following a plan

In simple terms follow the Agile Manifesto! You may have noticed that I have tweaked the second principle slightly, but then, that I will cover that in another article! Relentless focus on the values and principles of the Agile Manifesto helps us replace the phase gate-based milestone approach to a customer obsessed continuous value delivery approach. This is much like good health Can you turn healthy overnight? You need to condition your body and mind continuously for that. Ever heard of “Turn Healthy in 24 hours”?

Agility is a mindset! Roles, personas, practices, ScrumMasters, User Stories are the means (healthy food!) to get to agility. They are not energy on their own!

So, what really is the law of Conservation of Agility? It is as follows:

Agility can neither be delegated nor be outsourced; it can only be cultivated by self and instilled, ingrained by leadership, within and outside!