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The Agile Dilemma: applying Christensen's work to the Agile movement
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The Agile Dilemma: applying Christensen's work to the Agile movement


Agile fancies itself as the ultimate "disruptive influence," tossing aside decades of entrenched processes and methodologies. The term "disruptive technology" comes from Dr. Clayton Christensen, in …

Agile fancies itself as the ultimate "disruptive influence," tossing aside decades of entrenched processes and methodologies. The term "disruptive technology" comes from Dr. Clayton Christensen, in his book, "The Innovator's Dilemma." If the book is to believed--and it was voted as one of the five most influential business books of all time by "The Economist--then disruption comes to every market, always. So what will disruption look like to Agile?

Originally presented at Agilepalooza Austin, these slides accompanies remarks by Russ Fletcher, Managing Director of Davisbase Consulting. Fletcher suggests two areas of concern for agilists--narrow market definition and Agile "purists."

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  • Talk about eclectic background
    Extensive experience with Waterfall and other methodologies
  • Doesn’t this just mean “Inspect and Adapt”?
    And isn’t that already an Agile principle?


  • 1. The Agile dilemma How Disruption May Come to the Ultimate Disruptive Influence Agilepalooza, December 2013 © 2013 Davisbase Consulting, LLC @davisbase
  • 2. PresenteR • Russ Fletcher Vice President Federal Agile Practice Manager Davisbase Consulting • 20+ years of IT management experience • Agile coach and trainer of 1000’s of students over the past four years • Practice leader for Agile adoption in US federal government • BS, MIT; MBA, Brigham Young University © 2013 Davisbase Consulting, LLC @davisbase
  • 3. agile evangelism (…this is my kitchen!) © 2013 Davisbase Consulting, LLC @davisbase
  • 4. Topics for today • Concept of successful business disruption • How Agile provided a disruption • Why that should be a concern for the Agile community • Where do we go from here? © 2013 Davisbase Consulting, LLC @davisbase
  • 5. dr. clayton Christensen • Professor, Harvard Business School • Five-time recipient of the McKinsey Award, given each year to the two best articles in the Harvard Business Review • Rated top “thinker” in the world in 2013 and 2011, according to Thinkers50, a global ranking of management thinkers published every two years © 2013 Davisbase Consulting, LLC @davisbase
  • 6. the innovator’s dilemma • Global Business Book award as best business book on 1997 • In 2011 voted by The Economist as one of the six most important business books ever written • Introduced the concept of “disruptive technology” © 2013 Davisbase Consulting, LLC @davisbase
  • 7. disruptive technology “Disruptive innovation describes a process by which a product or service takes root initially in simple applications at the bottom of a market and then relentlessly moves up market, eventually displacing established competitors.” © 2013 Davisbase Consulting, LLC @davisbase
  • 8. Performance Measure effects of disruption Existing Market Leader Actual Needs of Market Disruptive Market Entrant Time © 2013 Davisbase Consulting, LLC @davisbase
  • 9. example Functionality Point-and-Shoot Cameras Digital Photography Cameras on Cell Phones Time © 2013 Davisbase Consulting, LLC @davisbase
  • 10. repeated pattern • Large steel mills disrupted by “mini mills” • Steam-and-pulley front loaders disrupted by hydraulics • Enterprise software vendors disrupted by open source • The repeated and ongoing disruption in computer storage • Hard drives to floppy disks to thumb drives to cloud to ...? • “...the fruit flies of the business world...” © 2013 Davisbase Consulting, LLC @davisbase
  • 11. CHRISTENSEN’S CONCLUSION Companies and technologies that do not pay attention to disruptive influences are bound to be damaged or replaced by those influences. © 2013 Davisbase Consulting, LLC @davisbase
  • 12. So what’s the big deal? © 2013 Davisbase Consulting, LLC @davisbase
  • 13. Problem #1: Market definition • Why did no railroad companies become airline companies? • • They defined themselves as railroad companies, instead of transportation companies What market does Agile serve? © 2013 Davisbase Consulting, LLC @davisbase
  • 14. problem #2: purists • Why do people rigidly adhere to methodologies even when they know that there are better options? • “You’re not Agile if you don’t ___________.” • Scrum purists: no “Scrum-but...” • Lean purists • XP purists © 2013 Davisbase Consulting, LLC @davisbase
  • 15. agile disruption ??? Performance Measure CMMI RUP ITIL EVM SAFe Waterfall Lean SW Dev. XP Scrum Lean principles Kanban? Time © 2013 Davisbase Consulting, LLC @davisbase
  • 16. AGILE VS. PROJECT MANAGEMENT ??? Performance Measure PMBOK v.5 PMBOK v.4 PMBOK v.3 PMBOK v.2 ??? PMBOK v.1 ICAgile PMI-ACP CSM Scrum Time © 2013 Davisbase Consulting, LLC @davisbase
  • 17. what’s next for agile? • Distributed open source teams? • Expand beyond software development? • Radical Management, by Stephen Denning • The self-organizing corporation? The flash-mob business? • Rewrite/adapt/extend the Manifesto? © 2013 Davisbase Consulting, LLC @davisbase
  • 18. spiritual agile manifesto We are uncovering better ways of becoming spiritual by living that way and helpings other to live that way too. Through our work we have come to value... People and families over programs and sermons Actual service over good intentions Caring for the poor over charitable donations Adapting our doctrine over blind faith While there is value to the items on the right, we value the items on the left more. © 2013 Davisbase Consulting, LLC @davisbase
  • 19. Your Call To Action ‣ Don’t get trapped as a purist ‣ Expand your knowledge horizon beyond your particular flavor of Agile ‣ Broaden the market definition ‣ Inspect and adapt always. In other words... Evolve or die by disruption! © 2013 Davisbase Consulting, LLC @davisbase
  • 20. THANK YOU! STAY CONNECTED! • :: 877-DAVIS-10 • @davisbase • Davisbase Consulting •#BecomingAgile - Blog - Webinar Series - Newsletter •Presenter Name © 2013 Davisbase Consulting, LLC Now is the time for questions! Now is the time for questions! Remember, any unanswered questions will be captured and responses provided online. @davisbase