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Sep 28, 2020 | Project approach

How did I get into this mess?

I have a long track record when it comes to AGILE Project Management, however it is clear to me that, a writer, I am not!
I use too many words, always get stuck in too much detail and grammar and I often disagree. Therefore it confuses me how I have been persuaded to write this article.

I remember vivid, the hesitation and even fear when I was asked to write this blog. 
I attempted many excuses to wiggle myself out of the challenge, but eventually I have succumbed to peer pressure.

Now that I have succeeded in creating this article, I need to give a big thanks to my colleagues , for their editing help and for creating the peer pressure to persuade me. 

While coaching Agile, there was no other sensible option than to approach my new writing career in an Agile manor too.

Please help me getting better? 

This is my first article in a series on AGILE.

I like to start at the basics: What is AGILE really about? 
An easy question I get asked so often but still I end up feeling challenged to awnser clearly every time.
A big reason is that Agile encompasses a lot, but to really understand the power of Agile you first need to understand the essence.  

Through this serie of articles I hope to take you on the journey of truly understanding Agile and getting you enthousiastic, along the way.

For that I have a plan ,a plan where I need your help with : Please check out “The Plan” in the section on the right ⇒

The Essence

Most people have heard of Agile or even have been involved in Agile projects. Not a strange thing, knowing Agile has been embraced by numerous successful organizations worldwide since its introduction in February 2001. Ranging from healthcare to manufacturing, agriculture to software development; tens of millions of workers start each working day with a stand-up to align on progress and issues.

Even though it is so widely practiced, people often tend to relate Agile, and particularly SCRUM to ceremonies, rituals, artefacts and a whole bunch of other Agile jargon.

Thinking of Agile this way, is sadly missing the point and mostly leads to limited success and ending up wrong.

written by:
Sander Kramer

Agile Coach & Sr. Project Manager, Elision

The Plan

Step 1: Getting you committed to read my article and helping me by giving feedback for the next.

Step 2: You can help me by choosing the next topic in the Poll below, or leave feedback on how to improve in the comments

Step 3: I will evaluate the feedback and create valuable improvements from it 

Step 4:  Share my learnings from your feedback and practice it in my next improved article.


What do you feel I should write about next time?

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The Golden Circle Theory?
Keep on reading

Why thinking of Agile this way leads to disaster can be explained by the ‘Golden Circle Theory. The Theory of: WHY, HOW and WHAT :

Agile methods like SCRUM, Kanban, XP, Safe and LeSS are only methodologies: a system of methods.
Stricktly applying rules, following best practices and pointing out procedures is completely usesless when you do not understand “WHY” you apply them and “HOW” it is needed to achieve succes. 
By not understanding and agreeing “WHY”  you practise a methodology,  you  are skipping the single most important foundation of collaboration: PURPOSE.

Not having a clear common goal leads to groups of people working alongside each other, just hoping to achieve a successful outcome (WHAT).

WHY, HOW and WHAT get mixed up so often that the essence – PURPOSE – gets lost

Cargo Cult: The How

Have you ever worked on a project where the emphasis was on how things were done? Lists of rules and procedures to comply with?
In these projects deviations are perceived as fault or problems and need to be addressed with improved rules and procedures.

If you did, you ended up in a  “Cargo Cult” project (Cargo cult, wikipedia).
In Cargo Cult it is believed that if you model your project to other successful projects, you will achieve the same results.

Cargo Cults have made the HOW to the WHY and WHAT.

Market Cult: The What

Have you ever worked on a project where profits, margins and turnovers are the key criteria for success? Every thing is made to be a competition, and winning means making the most  money. Competitors are only seen as enemies.

If you did, you ended up in a “Market Cult” project.
Market Cults have the conviction that relationships are transactional and success is equal to financial gain.

By making profit the goal for success and not the result of success, Market Cults have made the WHAT to the WHY and HOW.

Clan Cult: The Why

Have you ever worked somewhere, where you can sense the drive and purpose? Even though walls are not decorated with achievements, there are no lengthy workshops on customer focus and there no complaining about lack of vision or strategy, during coffee machine whisper?

 If you did, you have been part of a  “Clan Cult” project and if you have this experience, consider yourself lucky!
In Clan Cults there is a strong set of shared believes and values that drive collaboration, innovation and sense of purpose. Clan Cults are like a caring family.

By agreeing and understanding WHY a project has value and should be done , Clan cultures have a clear understanding on WHAT and can make use of HOW to achieve it.

A true shared believe, is the true binding factor, that elevates collaboration into extraordinary achievements.


If you have been able to bear with me till now, you already have understood that the point to make is that true AGILITY is about WHY.

The inception of AGILE started with a MANIFESTO. The MANIFESTO is the core foundation of a shared believe of what us just and right when working together.

Successful Agile has to starts with truly believing in its principles.
This believe is the drive that practicing an Agile methodology is helping to adhere.