Connecting with the Agile Mindset

Welcome to our new series of blog posts: The Blackstone Agile Connection! This new series introduces our perspective on agile practices and thinking. Chances are, you’ve heard about agile. We’ll help you understand what agile is and how it’s implemented. Most importantly, we’ll help you assess where to start with agile or where your organization is at in the transformation and adoption of it. Dedicated to furthering agile concepts and practices, experts from our Agile Center for Excellence will contribute to the various topics in this series. Our experts are engaging with leaders across the government to facilitate the adoption of agile at the team, program and enterprise level, and will share tips and insights here.

As we work with our clients to assess or build their agile knowledge, we find that the first connection that must be made is that agile is a mindset versus a process or a methodology. It is meant to bring happiness to the workplace, empowerment and mastery to the team, and deliver value to users more quickly. The Agile Manifesto provides us four values that serve as our foundational pillars:

• Individuals and interactions over processes and tools
• Working software over comprehensive documentation
• Customer collaboration over contract negotiation
• Responding to change over following a plan

The Agile Manifesto also defines a set of twelve principles so that we may achieve these four values in our work and delivery.

There are a boundless set of practices that embody the Agile Manifesto’s values and principles. The most widely used agile practice is Scrum. Kanban is also a popular practice, as are the methods and tools originating from Lean manufacturing and eXtreme Programming (XP). The Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe) is one example of a knowledge base of agile practices for implementing agile across the enterprise. Custom practices or combined practices such as ScrumBan, even those without names, are still “agile” as long as they embody the values and principles.

Our experts have built upon the Agile Manifesto to create our own guidance, the Organizational Agile Approach. It defines Blackstone’s techniques and framework for adopting agile across all stages of a project lifecycle, from organizational change at the portfolio and enterprise level to continuous delivery that derives benefits of Development/Operations/Security (DevOpsSec) at the project and operations level. We’ve built this approach based upon continuous improvements across our numerous federal and commercial implementations.

We look forward to continuing the Agile Connection, with a deeper dive into our Organizational Agile Approach in future posts. And, in the spirit of connection, we welcome your comments and questions on the topics we address. We are a team of passionate agilists and believe strongly that, whether or not you adopt agile methods in their entirety, there is tremendous benefit in the agile values and principles. Knowing and practicing them will only make you and your team(s) stronger, better, and faster.

Learn more about Blackstone’s agile approach.

Connect with us on Twitter:
John Hughes: @jwhughesjr
Vince Hurley: @Vhurley_10
Sara Kindsfater-Yerkes: @BluSKYs