Do Agile | Be Agile


We Must Do Agile (Practices)
We Must Be Agile (Mindset)

  • “We need a standard way to do Agile.”
  • “If you’re not doing [practice], you’re not Agile!”
  • “We need something specific, not philosophy.”
  • “If you’re obsessing on a checklist of processes, you’re missing the point of Agile.”
  • “Those stupid Agile ‘purists’ make things too hard.”
  • “How can you see the practices and the mindset supporting each other?”
  • “How can we learn to get the outcomes/benefits of Agile along the way together?”
  • (Invite dialogue of their rationale: What is driving their emphasis of a particular practice/principle?)
  • “What assumptions are we making about people that may help us choose to emphasize practices or principles? How can you test those assumptions?”
  • (People begin describing how specific practices reinforce a principle.)
  • “What practices help us with the problem we are trying to solve?
  • “Some of these practices actually work together as part of a whole approach.”
  • (Discussion of what people in the organization really expect from Agile)


First identified at Agile Coachcamp2016, published here 2017.


Everywhere | Not Here


Agile Works Everywhere
Agile Won’t Work Here

  • “Agile works everywhere because it’s just values & principles.”
  • “Your complaints are weak because you don’t know enough about Agile to see how it can work (maybe you need training!)”
  • “That won’t work here because of our constraints.” (time, tech, process, doc, regulation, etc.)
  • “We tried Agile before and it failed.”
  • “Our management doesn’t support Agile values and principles.”
  • “What would be necessary for parts of Agile to work?”
  • “What are the risks of trying?”
  • “What about this org needs to stay the same/change in order for us to succeed with Agile?”
  • (Highlight a past troubled project that became successful.) “What assumptions did that team challenge before they succeeded? How is this debate like the ones on that project?”
  • (Dialogue of the risks/fears of implementing Agile, and how to mitigate them.)
  • “What parts of Agile will work here? Will they be enough to help?”
  • “I like the idea of , how can we do it in a way we can support?”
  • “Some things might need to change around here… How can we do that?”
  • “Here’s some strengths we have in the way we currently work; how can we keep those as we try Agile?”


First identified at AgileDialogs2016, further refined at Agile Coachcamp2016, published here 2017.

Invited | Imposed


Agile Must Be Invited
Agile Should Be Directed

  • “When we impose Agile practices, we kill any chance for an Agile mindset to grow.”
  • “Why would I include someone who doesn’t understand Agile in planning the implementation?”
  • Everyone must co-create the vision for change.”
  • Leadership owns the vision for, and drives, the change.”
  • “What are the risks of starting Agile ‘wrong?’
  • “How does the way we introduce Agile affect people’s effectiveness?”
  • “What happens when we delegate more, or less, of the strategy for implementing Agile?”
  • (Conversation is about the needs/fears of individuals and the organization)
  • “How will we accept feedback on the approach we’re taking around commitment and engagement?”
  • “How do we ensure the needs of the organization are met, too?”
  • “How can we get our people involved?”

This bramble was identified at the first Agile Dialogs unconference as a possible one for discussion; see the proceedings. This particular one was explored further at Agile Coach Camp 2016 in St Louis with particular attention to identifying thorns.

Always Estimate | #NoEstimates



Always Estimate
Never Estimate (#NoEstimates)

  • “Estimates are worthless/wrong the minute they are given.”
  • “We need estimates to know when we’ll be done!”
  • “We can use actual throughput of stories so we don’t have to spend time estimating as a forecast.”
  • “You’re being irresponsible with money that’s not yours.”
  • “How will the direction you choose (skipping estimates or not) affect later decisions or ability to achieve support?”
  • “What assumptions are you/your stakeholders making on what is/is not needed around estimation?”
  • “What other things besides estimation do you need to know to make this decision?”
  • “What is an estimate a proxy for..?” (e.g. complexity)
  • “What fear is addressed by having/avoiding estimates?”
  • “No estimates, detailed estimates, whatever — our real goal is…” (on time delivery, customer satisfaction, reliability, etc.)
  • “Here is a/another way to get the forecast we need.”
  • “What if we simplified our detailed estimation method/enhanced our simple method?”
  • (A reasoned analysis of when an estimate is necessary or not; situational merits, risks, the level of detail/accuracy required.)

This bramble’s assumptions were explored as one of the paths (prior to Agile Brambles being set-up) at the first Agile Dialogs unconference; see the proceedings. Possible fruits were discovered as well. See specifically, the Learnings section.