Over the years we have witnessed a definite progression in Agile practices. The method that was first aimed to help small teams, was later scaled to change processes in companies and is now starting to affect the overall understanding of business management practices. The natural next question is – when will Agile spread beyond business and into other parts of our life? Will it reach the government and will it eventually become imbedded in our culture?
There is a long standing tradition of taking the best practices from the private sector and adapting them to the government. This usually takes time, while the practice effectiveness is proven and the right way to adopt it into the goals of a government office is found. However the implementation almost always leads to more efficiency, reduced spending or other significant changes and improvements of how the officials operate. With Agile gaining great traction all over the private sector more and more wonder – can it be the time for the government to consider it as well?
The evolution of Agile so far can be neatly summed up into three waves, described by Charlie Rudd. The first wave – the start of the method aimed at creating efficiency within small teams. It was all about creating the process within which a team could produce the best results with the minimum effort. Once that was established and the value of Agile became more apparent, the need for separate teams to work together came about and thus the second wave begun.
In this wave, the main focus was ability to scale Agile practices in order to make them work not only on a team, but also on an organizational level. Practices like SAFe, DAD and many others came about, letting the companies find the best way forward. Once more and more organizations have scaled successfully and the operational side of the company was more or less fully agilized, the third wave of Agile management hit.
After introducing Agile into the rest of our processes we are now at a point where it has reached implementation on the management level. The way organizations are lead has being changed, shifting our mindset and practices and thus completing the business transition into full Agility. There is no clear path of how this will be reached just yet, but once this wave has taken full force, we are likely to see great changes in the ways of our leadership.
Based on this, we can draw a conclusion that Agile is now reaching a point of being mature, time tested and proven enough to move from private into the public sector. In fact, we already have some cases of Agile adoption within government bodies and this number is only getting bigger as the days go by. It is a clear sign of acceptance of Agile as a possibility for the government adoption and a rip current forming for the fourth Agile wave.
While this is only starting to happen right now, due to the previous industry experience, we can already predict some of the changes the wave is going to bring. Agile is known for efficiency, minimizing waste and optimizing resources and there is no reason why this will not be carried into the public sector. It should bring a more nimble and faster acting government, less bureaucracy and a simpler processes for public requests and documentation, collaboration between businesses and the public to reach the best solutions for all and much more. Once the fourth wave truly hits we can expect to have a government that is finally oriented towards its consumers – the citizens and not towards itself.
At this point in time the private sector has enough experience in Agile to relay the knowledge and guide the government transition smoothly. With the added practices from the third wave and understanding of the Agile leadership we will soon be ready to embark on the new quest – riding the fourth wave and changing our government for the better.