Thoughtful Dialogue on Agile Market Dynamics

Thoughtful Dialogue on Agile Market Dynamics

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I saw this dialogue on LinkedIn recently and thought I’d share a part of it—

From David O’Connor

I have been looking for a job as an Agile coach or even as a Scrum Master for a while now with little success. It appears that companies want Technical program managers or Delivery managers or Project managers instead. Sometimes they prefix the word “Agile” to these titles.

My sense is that the change agent or coach aspect of Scrum Masters and Agile coaches is no longer desirable by most businesses. What do you think?

A significant stream of comments and reactions to David’s post are worth a read. However, one of the comments, from Jon Bach, really struck me…

One way to know how valuable something is, is to take it away.
Some companies do this with software testing — removing testers, turning them into Developers, or making Developers do it — or making their customers test it instead and deciding to hotfix in Production (DevOps). Take away bad testing and you won’t notice any difference. Take away skilled testing and you’ll feel it right away.
Perhaps the same is true about notions of Agile development and roles. Taking away Agile-done-shallowly (ceremony, procedures, busywork) and a company may not see any side effects, and may even question anyone whose previous role mentions it.

There are two key points I take away from Jon’s reaction—

  1. When you’re in a more value-ambiguous role, you need to “bring it” each day. You have to have skin in the game and high-value skills. Even then, you are at risk.

  2. Realize that, until you are working in a company that has validated your value, you’re at risk. So, you’ll need to be building your skills AND building your network and brand as an insurance policy against the risk.

Finally, also realize that the evolution to agile ways of working isn’t over. But instead of roles, skills are becoming the new value proposition. Roles and certifications are becoming irrelevant. But the breadth and depth of the skills you bring to the table, hard and soft skills and experience, are your differentiators. 

In other words—Build YOU, and they (opportunities) will come.

Stay agile my friends



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  1. Michael Wollin

    > Build YOU, and they (opportunities) will come.
    I am not so sure. Most companies have misconceptions about what agile is and the benefits it brings. They only know “Agile-done-shallowly” and so either think it provides no benefit or that they have mastered it. They are in no position to tell the difference in the value I bring, so building me and they will come is not really true. We have to find a way to communicate to the market that agile may not be what they think it is and that some coaches will produce the results they want.