Scrum Summit 2020 – Day 2

Global Online Scrum Leadership Event – Day 2

[Including Jeff Sutherland – Scrum@Scale Origins]

The industry is witnessing instability. It is experiencing an extreme marketplace volatility in the wake of COVID-19.

Our mission is to address the challenges of the current business environment, and guide the industry to lead through the volatility by bringing the best knowledge and information from the pioneers and leaders of Scrum, and advance the conversation to actionable ideas.

‘Rethinking’ is the need of the hour. Our goal is to discover the new skills, tools and norms in the current situation to improve the ways of working and life of people.

Scrum Summit 2020 – Day 1

Global Online Scrum Leadership Event – Day 1

[Keynote – Willy Wijnands – Transforming education with eduScrum®]

The industry is witnessing instability. It is experiencing an extreme marketplace volatility in the wake of COVID-19.

Our mission is to address the challenges of the current business environment, and guide the industry to lead through the volatility by bringing the best knowledge and information from the pioneers and leaders of Scrum, and advance the conversation to actionable ideas.

‘Rethinking’ is the need of the hour. Our goal is to discover the new skills, tools and norms in the current situation to improve the ways of working and life of people.

eduScrum® Workshop

eduScrum®: an opportunity to close the gap between the educational offer and the market requirements?

Willy Wijnands, creator & founder of eduScrum® and initial co-creator of Lightschools® and a passionate Chemistry & Science teacher, believes that Scrum suits the needs of the fast changing market. The workforce of tomorrow has to cope with these changes. Unfortunately, the current educational system is obsolete and this creates a gap between the educational offer and the market requirements. Could eduScrum become the connecting element?

During this session Willy shares his experience in implementing Scrum in education and the benefits eduScrum brings and let you a little bit experience how you can use eduScrum as a tool to work with students in teams and create an Agile mindset by the students.

Who the Hell Does This Guy Think He Is?

Who the Hell Does This Guy Think He Is?

I wanted to tackle this matter early in my ‘Agile in Education’ journey.

I’ve been a trainer earlier in my career, both in the business world and in adult education and many members of my immediate and extended family are or were teachers. However, I am not and have never been a school teacher.

So what gives me the right to waltz into schools, colleges and the world of education demanding that everyone change the way things are done?

Nothing gives me that right. But either way, it isn’t what I’m trying to do – in any sense.

I have genuine respect for teachers and those working to help educate our young people. It’s a vitally important, immensely challenging and often exhausting, thankless role to play. I would never wish to tell anyone in education how they should do their job. There are many people far wiser and with far better credentials for orchestrating reform than I.

However, I do believe that the system does not properly prepare young people for a rapidly changing world which bears no resemblance to the one that existed when the system was first established. This belief is based on my experience as a parent, on discussions with people who are involved in education and on observing articles, reports and debate in media around the world.

Even if you don’t agree with this point of view, it would be hard to convince me that we should not look for ways to improve the system whenever we can – however effective we think it is.

So what am I trying to achieve by creating the Agile in Education community and this blog?

During the last couple of decades there has been a revolution in the way that many businesses operate – set to the backdrop of a planet that is changing at an ever-increasing rate. That on its own should demand a fresh look at the way we prepare young people to contribute to this exciting, challenging world as adults.

While there are many examples of businesses struggling to implement agile thinking (it is not an easy, quick fix and it requires a fundamental shift in mind-set that if absent, will invariably result in failure) there is at the very least, the potential that some of the concepts could have significant benefits in the classroom as well as in the office. In support of this theory, there is a growing collection of cases where scrum based frameworks and other progressive ideas are being adopted in schools around the world.

My personal aim is to explore this potential; to help others become aware that there are important, exciting things happening (within businesses but increasingly within education) and to encourage debate. I believe the time is right to give these new ideas serious consideration – especially on the back of CV19 and the experiences of global lockdown.

During my personal Agile in Education journey, I hope to learn a great many things and expect to have my views challenged – but if I can help open others eyes to new possibilities along the way then I will consider my mission a success.

Whether you are curious, excited, sceptical or horrified about the idea of agile thinking in education please get in touch. I’d love to hear your story.

Agile In Education Meet-up Group

Agile Education: Extraordinary Video Footage Uncovered!

Publication: The Daily Scrum
Date: 13th July 2035

15 years ago this week, at 19:00 on the evening of Monday 13th July 2020, a group of 16 progressive thinkers and educators met in cyberspace. Their mission was to consider how they could revolutionise the education systems of the UK and the world from the ground up, by exploring and promoting the adoption of agile thinking and practices within schools and colleges.

This is a well known tale, but what really happened on that famous night, when the community that was to become so influential was born?

Legend has it that self-confessed geek and agile fanatic, Andy Bleach, hogged the microphone, refusing to allow anyone else to talk – but was that true?

What was the real story behind the creation of the now famous Pressure Parsnip Theory of Education that some claim was first revealed at this meeting?

What was said that was so profound it spurred the creation of a community and a movement that slowly but steadily spread the progressive mind-set into the educational establishments of the UK and the world?

Well we here at The Daily Scrum are now able to reveal, exclusively, exactly what took place. After many months of dedicated investigation, we have uncovered the long-lost video recording of the entire event.

The session began with a short introduction from Andy about why he decided to start the community, followed by an exercise that allowed the members of the group to get to know one another a little.

Then, it is clear that Andy did indeed hog the microphone for half an hour, in which he revealed, in detail, his view of education and how he believed agile thinking could make a big difference to the education of young people.

Here are the key points from his talk:

Education

Observations on the current education system
  • the roots of the education system lie in the time of the industrial revolution
  • the world is a radically different place now and yet education remains unchanged
  • are the current methods the most effective ways of preparing our young people for the modern world? For example:
    • formal classroom layout supporting teacher led learning
    • knowledge transfer from expert to pupil
    • subject based; segregated subjects
    • school years organised by ‘Manufactured Date’ (ref: Sir Ken Robinson)
    • intelligence measured solely by academic success
    • remedial action to ‘repair’ children who are ‘broken academically’
    • focus on exams – major source of stress
    • when was the last time you used something you learned to pass an exam?
    • when did you last have to take an exam?
  • the UK, and other countries have a fear of failure
  • but failure is good – it is how we learn and become better people; modern, successful, agile businesses recognise this
  • the current system generates pressure on young people, sometimes with fatal consequences
  • the system creates two types of person – academically competent and ‘the rest’
  • are either group prepared effectively for functioning in the modern world?
  • the problem is with the system rather than the teachers
  • but that should not stop us all from questioning every aspect of education to see if there is a better way

Agile

The origins of the Agile 'movement'
  • in the 1970s and beyond, most software products were built using the waterfall method – this has many inherent weaknesses including:
    • identification of bugs and design issues are primarily identified during the test phase requiring rewind of the process
    • value is only delivered at the end of the project – often months or years after the start
    • there are many unknowns that make planning inherently inaccurate and unreliable
    • the approach generates numerous pressure points, great stress and often results in overrun, overspend or even cancellation
  • something had to be done – in 2001, 17 IT professionals gathered to create an agile manifesto
  • from many inputs and ideas, Scrum has emerged as the dominant framework
  • much of agile thinking is based on empiricism – the theory that knowledge comes only from sensory experience
  • frameworks such as Scrum replace the waterfall approach with a combination of evolutionary delivery and continuous improvement using small, self-organising, multi-disciplined teams to deliver increments of useable product in short 1-4 week ‘Sprint’ cycles

Progressive Mind-set

A selection of progressive thinking frameworks, techniques and concepts
  • there are many ‘progressive’ techniques and approaches that could have far reaching benefits in education, including:
    • Scrum/eduScrum
    • Kanban
    • Lean
    • Visual Thinking
    • Design Thinking
    • Liberating Structures
  • we also need to consider nurturing of the appropriate mind-set and values to ensure success
  • these are not easy, tick-box solutions – progress will be challenging

Opportunities

A vision of what we might achieve through agile, progressive thinking in education
  • if introduction of agile, progressive thinking is successful, the benefits are far reaching – young people will potentially become:
    • engaged and motivated to learn
    • natural collaborators
    • less stressed
    • able to reach their full potential
    • courageous enough to give and receive feedback
    • in possession of a healthy attitude to failure
    • comfortable with change
    • creative thinkers
    • happy
  • teachers will be able to focus on supporting their pupils to unlock their full potential, through mentoring, coaching, facilitating
  • families will be less stressed and happier
  • schools will have the flexibility and mind-set to fail fast – becoming better equipped to serve their students, businesses and their local communities in a rapidly changing world
  • businesses will be served by a pool of young people who have the skills and confidence to contribute effectively from the start, already comfortable with agile approaches

An International Challenge – Already Underway

A sample of the spread of agile thinking in education around the world
  • Scrum is a generic framework which has been applied in many situations other than software development
  • eduScrum is an education friendly version of Scrum developed in the Netherlands by Science Teacher, Willy Wijnands
  • interest in eduScrum is exploding, having reached 30 countries to date, including China, India and the USA
  • almost 1000 teachers have been trained to use eduScrum in Russia
  • another Agile approach has been introduced into 200 schools in Australia
  • there are one or two agile based initiatives in the UK

Then Andy finished with the now famous statement that summarises the ethos of the community so well:

I believe:
  • we need to update our education system to make it suitable for the modern world
  • we should explore the potential of embracing an agile or progressive mind-set within education
  • we don’t need to wait for a directive from above
  • we can take small steps ourselves… and see what happens…

The final part if the session gave attendees a brief chance to discuss what they thought the community could achieve over the coming months. The discussions were promising and it was agreed that the debate would continue in subsequent meetings, the first of which was held on Monday 17th August 2020 (reference: https://www.meetup.com/agile-in-education-uk/events/271923929)

If you wish to re-live the experience in its entirety – and discover the origins of the Pressure Parsnip Theory of Education – the video recording of the entire event can be viewed here:
https://tinyurl.com/agileined001-recording

So what is ‘Scrum’? Part 3 – Mind-set and Values

So what is ‘Scrum’? Part 3 – Mind-set and Values

In the final part of my introduction to Scrum, I look at the mind-set and values that are central to making Scrum work.

‘What?’ not ‘How?’

The Scrum Guide specifies the necessary elements of the framework but does not dictate how they should be implemented.  This is left up to the Scrum Team to decide for themselves and the implementation often emerges and evolves through the cycles of continuous improvement.

For example, the Scrum Guide talks about the PO role and his or her responsibility for maintaining the Product Backlog. The guide does not, however, stipulate what method or criteria the PO should use to generate and order the backlog or how and where the list should be represented and stored. (Should you use an online system or paper? It doesn’t matter.) This allows for flexibility so that local and organisational context can be taken into account in the implementation.

Mind-set

This flexibility is one of the reasons that makes Scrum so powerful but the simplicity and lack of specific implementation directives makes it challenging to master and is perhaps one reason why there are many examples of Scrum implementations failing.

The ingredient that is so often missed is one of mind-set. It is not sufficient to implement Scrum as a series of tick-box exercises. It takes time and perseverance for a team and an organisation to discover how best to implement Scrum in their specific circumstances.

Values

The Guide addresses this mind-set through 5 values that it identifies as critical to its success. Promoting, encouraging and embeding these within a team can help to ensure the appropriate mind-set is adopted.

Commitment – each team member personally commits to achieving the goals of each sprint

Courage – each team member has the courage to do what is needed and to tackle tough problems

Focus – everyone in the team focuses on the work and goals of the sprint

Openness – everyone agrees to by open about their work and any challenges that they face

Respect – the team members respect one another as “capable, independent people”

To underline their significance, it is worth quoting directly from the guide:

“When the values of commitment, courage, focus, openness and respect are embodied and lived by the Scrum Team, the Scrum pillars of transparency, inspection, and adaptation come to life and build trust for everyone. The Scrum Team members learn and explore those values as they work with the Scrum events, roles and artifacts.”
https://www.scrumguides.org/scrum-guide.html#values

In many ways, the 5 values are the most important elements of Scrum. Without them, the framework is unlikely to succeed. With them, it can become a powerful force that has the potential to revolutionise the way goals and desired outcomes are achieved.

References:

A look at agile values: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/values-agiles-toughest-challenge-andy-bleach/
scrum.org: https://www.scrum.org/
Scrum Guide: https://www.scrumguides.org/scrum-guide.html

So what is ‘Scrum’? Part 2 – Core Elements

So what is ‘Scrum’? Part 2 – Core Elements

In this second post of three looking at the basics of Scrum, I introduce the core elements as described in the official Scrum Guide.

The Scrum Guide: The Key Elements of Scrum

The Scrum framework is described fully and eloquently in a relatively short document called the Scrum Guide. It outlines a number of elements:

3 Pillars:

  • Transparency – information is shared openly using a common language
  • Inspection – the scrum team frequently inspect their progress to identify areas for improvement
  • Adaptation – the process is routinely adjusted to optimise performance

3 Roles:

  • Product Owner – responsible for maximizing the value of the product via the product backlog artefact (see below)
  • Scrum Master – promotes and supports Scrum, helping everyone understand Scrum theory, practices, rules, and values
  • Development Team – the team of professionals who do the work of delivering the ‘potentially releasable product increment’

5 Events:

  • The Sprint – a time box of 1 month or less during which a useable, ‘potentially releasable product increment’ is created
  • Sprint Planning – a time boxed session for the whole sprint team to agree on what will be delivered during the sprint
  • Daily Scrum – a time-boxed event for the development team, held at the same time every day, in which they update one another on the status of the sprint
  • Sprint Review – a review by the Scrum Team and other stakeholders of what has been done during the sprint; the Product Backlog (see below) is then amended where appropriate
  • Sprint Retrospective – an opportunity for the scrum team to inspect itself and plan improvements to the next sprint

3 Artifacts:

  • Product Backlog – an ordered list and single source of everything that is known to be needed in the product. Maintained entirely by the Product Owner
  • Sprint Backlog – subset of product backlog items selected for the sprint
  • Increment – the value delivered from all previous sprints plus the product backlog items completed during the current sprint

All of these need to be present if Scrum is to be implemented correctly (without all of these, it is technically not Scrum).  But Scrum is an intriguing, multi-faceted beast. It is designed quite intentionally as a light-weight framework which is in essence very simple to understand, however, the guide states clearly that it “…is not a process, technique, or definitive method.”

In my next post I look at the extra ingredients that are necessary to make Scrum work effectively.

References:

The Scrum Guide: https://www.scrumguides.org/

So what is ‘Scrum’? Part 1 – The Origins of Scrum

So what is ‘Scrum’? Part 1 – The Origins of Scrum

In this first post of three looking at the basics of Scrum, I introduce the Scrum Framework and where it came from.

Origins

Scrum, according to the official guide, is “…a framework for developing, delivering, and sustaining complex products.”

It was created specifically for software development teams as an alternative to the more traditional waterfall development methodology but it is increasingly being used within the wider business world and beyond – including in education.

Scrum was developed by Jeff Sutherland and formalised, with Ken Schwaber, in 1995.  It was built upon a wide range of ideas and influences, not least of all on a paper written in 1986 by two Japanese academics, Hirotaka Takeuchi and Ikujiro Nonaka, while they were Visiting Professors at Harvard Business School. They inspired the choice of name for the framework when they likened recent trends in development practices in Japan and the US to the game of rugby and the scrum formation in particular.

Empiricism

The core philosophy behind Scrum is the theory of empiricism – that is, making decisions based upon what is known.  To explain this a little further, let’s take a look at one of the key issues with the old way of doing things.

At the start of a large and complex project there are many unknowns, for example:

  • What is the real-world capacity of the teams involved in delivering the product?
  • How will that vary over time as team members get used to working with one another?
  • How will it be impacted when individuals join and leave?
  • What will be the impact of unforeseen technical challenges, which inevitably occur in any complex project?
  • How will delays and issues in one area of the project impact other areas?
  • How well does the customer understand what they need from the product during the initial planning stage?
  • In what ways will the world and consequently the customer’s requirements change during the life of the project?
  • What overheads are required to manage the many different parts of the project?
  • What is the most efficient way to communicate between the different areas of the project?

In the old-fashioned waterfall approach, the project planners either ignore the potential issues or they attempt to estimate their impact. Because every project is different, these estimations are effectively guesses, leading to a plan that fails to predict anything useful. Consequently, projects, if they are delivered at all, are frequently delivered late and over budget – often failing to provide anywhere near the value that was promised at the start.

Rather than trying to understand the entire mountain up-front, Scrum minimises the impact of the unknowns by taking on the challenge in small chunks (called ‘sprints’ – lasting between 1 and 4 weeks). After every sprint, the team, the customer and other stakeholders learn something new about the product, the environment and the performance of the team, allowing for corrective adjustments to be made. This leads to a cycle of continuous improvement.

Realisation of Value

Another big advantage with Scrum is that it’s capable of delivering a working, useable product to the customer almost immediately or soon after the start, whereas waterfall projects typically only deliver something at the end, which can be many months – even years after the project begins. During these long projects, investment becomes tied up and only turned into value for the business when everything has been completed. Scrum allows the business and its customers to realise the value of their investments much sooner.

Also, if a ‘wrong turn’ is taken during a Scrum sprint, the impact is small (typically no bigger than the sprint size) and the resolution quick to apply. In waterfall, errors can go unnoticed for long periods of time and their correction can have significant negative impact on the plan and the budget.  

In the next blog I look at the main elements of the framework as defined in The Scrum Guide.

References:

Origins: https://www.scruminc.com/origins-of-scrum/
scrum.org: https://www.scrum.org/
Comparison to Rugby: https://medium.com/serious-scrum/scrum-s-connection-to-rugby-597405fed5ec
Hirotaka Takeuchi and Ikujiro Nonaka’s Harvard article: https://hbr.org/1986/01/the-new-new-product-development-game

Ski Lift

So what is ‘agile’?

In this post I take a not entirely serious look at the origins and catalyst of the agile ‘movement’, born in the exciting and daredevil world of software development.

Ski LiftIt was deep into the evening of February 13th 2001. The wind pummelled the cables and towers of the ski-lift, creating an eerie, semi-musical cacophony of creaking metal and whirling wires. The icy snow rattled against the shutters. Behind them, inside ‘The Lodge’, the debate – which at times had raged almost as violently as the storm outside – came to an abrupt halt. The silence lasted a full minute as each of those present grappled with the implications of what they had created. One by one, they realised that the world would never be the same again…

Well I’ve no idea if this was how it really happened, but the date and location and possibly the bit about the raging debate are true, for it was on this day (or thereabouts) that 17 representatives (or “organizational anarchists” as they describe themselves) from a variety of technical disciplines and backgrounds created a “Manifesto for Agile Software Development”. And yes – it has changed the world.

A great many threads, influences and elements were fed into the cauldron during that meeting but probably two things, rightly or wrongly, have emerged from it to dominate first the world of software development and increasingly the wider world of business, over the subsequent two decades: the word ‘agile’ and the framework known as ‘Scrum’.

I will defer the debate about the word ‘agile’ until another post perhaps, but it is worth pointing out that for some at least, agile and Scrum are the same thing.

They aren’t – the former is a state of mind; a way of viewing the world and the latter is a framework – but it is easy to see how that belief persists due to the dominance of Scrum, which I will cover in another post. Throughout my blogs and other activities I consider ‘agile’ in its widest sense, as an umbrella covering a collection of varied principles, practices, philosophies, frameworks and techniques that fit in with the agile mind-set.

To understand this mind-set, and specifically why it has had such a significant impact on the business world, we need to delve a little further back in time to the bad old days of missed deadlines, blown budgets, disappointed customers and… waterfalls.

Once upon a time – before agile – most software products were developed in a sequence of phases using a methodology known as ‘Waterfall’. It went something like this:

Phase 1 – Requirements Analysis

The customer for whom the software is to be built is interrogated under the glare of powerful arc lights to reveal their inner most desires, which are written down in infinite detail to form the sacred “requirements document” – a tome often so large that entire forests are culled to supply the paper.

At the end of this phase, the customer is whisked away to a secret location until the start of phase 4, typically two or three years later, without any means of communication with the team developing their software.

Phase 2 – System Design

The analysts who conducted phase 1, pass the sacred document to a new group of analysts and return to their basement, for their job is done. This new team pore lovingly over the texts, extracting meaning from it all and writing new documents; sometimes embellishing their words with diagrams of great complexity and inner beauty.

When done, they too retire to their corner of the basement, leaving the new sacred ‘design document’ behind. The original sacred requirements document is carried carefully via a trusted cohort of anointed interns to a secure storage facility deep underground and is never looked at again.

Phase 3 – Implementation/Coding

In phase 3 the magicians are summoned. It is their job to mysteriously transform the sacred design document into code. Millions upon millions of lines of code. In fact it is believed that the greater the number of lines of code, the greater the quality of the finished product.

When the entire sacred design document has been transformed, the code is transferred to a special environment for the grand ceremony of User Acceptance Testing. Tradition has it that this milestone in the project should always happen at least 2 months behind schedule – often considerably more. By this stage the budget for the entire project should already have been spent. Twice.

Phase 4 – User Acceptance Testing

At this stage, the customer is brought back from their exile and presented with a partially functioning system. They are expected to remember what it was that they wanted at the start of the project all those years ago and to be wise enough to know how they should test it. Often they cannot remember the original intent, but either way, they have changed their mind anyway. The world is a different place now.

There is no time or budget to fix anything so the things that are most broken are ripped out.

Phase 5 – Operations

In this phase, a new group of technicians with no prior knowledge of the product attempt to install it (in whatever state it is in), into a new ‘production environment’.

The end users for whom it was built are then told of its existence for the first time. They play with it for a short while then spend the next six months generating a long list of suggestions about how it could be made into something useful, after which the machines upon which it runs are turned off and the process begins again.

Ok – to be fair, I am of course exaggerating – many will argue that in some situations a waterfall approach is a sound and effective way to develop software. It does have some great benefits at least on paper but joking aside, there are significant flaws in the concept.

The group of techno-anarchists who met at the Ski Lodge in Utah during the winter of 2001 managed to distil the essence of a new way of thinking that had been bubbling away in various places. They called it ‘agile’.

This essence is about many things but at the core is a set of values and principles that encourage flexibility, reflection, honesty, courage, trust and above all an in-built obsession with continuous improvement. All these things are achieved by replacing the huge, complex, heavily documented monolithic projects with a continuous stream of small steps, each of which deliver something of value to the end user.

These deliverables are released quicky and frequently so that everyone involved can learn about the product, therefore improving the effectiveness of the next small step (or increment) and ultimately delivering a more effective product or service. Due to the small steps, when things go wrong – and they do – the cost is small and the resolution is rapid.

When executed ‘properly’ this process has benefits for everyone concerned. The customer sees value almost immediately and receives a product that meets their real needs even when those needs are changing on a day to day basis. The timescales for delivering significant value are reduced considerably as are the budgets. The developers are empowered and trusted to ‘do what is best’ and to continually improve in all dimensions of their role, resulting in an improved quality of working life.

The only downside is that achieving the necessary agile mind-set, especially in larger organisations that are still organised with an industrial, ‘command and control’ mentality, is challenging and especially difficult to sustain. But the rewards are immense. I believe there are similar challenges facing adoption of an agile way of life in education but there is a similar scale of potential benefits. Potentially even greater.

I will explore this educational potential in further posts – but until then, why not join the Agile In Education UK Meet-up Group at https://www.meetup.com/agile-in-education-uk? You will be most welcome.

References:
The Manifesto for Agile Software Development: https://agilemanifesto.org/

The start of the journey

The start of the journey

In my first post I tell the story of why I have created the Progressive Education web site and the Agile In Education community group. What do I hope to achieve with the project?

Young boy with rucksackWhy am I so convinced that a progressive, agile way of thinking could have a profound impact on the education of todays young people? Why do I think it’s important?

I’m an IT geek. I’ve worked in computing for all of my adult life but for much of that time, training, coaching and helping others to understand and make the most of technology has been central. With a family full of teachers and educators I guess it’s seeped into my soul.

I was introduced to agile thinking in the form of Scrum just short of 10 years ago, although I’d been aware of various elements such as evolutionary delivery previously. It had probably occurred to me at some point that this would be a brilliant framework to introduce into education but it wasn’t until I read Jeff Sutherland’s excellent bible “Scrum: The Art of Doing Twice the Work in Half the Time” that I learned of Willy Wijnands.

Willy is a science teacher (or was – he retired from teaching last week) at Ashram College in the Netherlands. In 2011 he began experimenting with using Scrum in his classes and eventually formalised an education friendly version of the framework called eduScrum. Not only is this now well established in schools in the Netherlands but it has spread to 30 other countries including Russia, China, India and the USA. Another agile based approach to education is taking off in Australia with wide participation.

So back to the questions. Why does anything need to be done?

The simple answer is that education of our young people is no longer fit for purpose – not a situation that is the fault of teachers, may I add. The current system, at least in the UK, has its roots back in the 19th century and particularly in recent decades, has effectively become a funnel leading to a narrow-minded focus on examination results.

Try a simple experiment. Ask the next 10 people you meet whether, since leaving school, they’ve used anything that they learned in order to pass their school exams. The school system trains people to pass exams. A skill that in the majority of cases is of little or no direct benefit to them when they get out into the real world. Teachers need to be better empowered to support and facilitate genuine learning in their classrooms. Children need to be more engaged in their learning and better prepared for their future. Businesses need young people better equipped to help them survive in a rapidly, perpetually evolving landscape.

We need to replace the existing system with something more flexible – something that equips young people with the skills that they need to survive in a world that is radically different from the world of 100 years ago. A world that requires flexibility, initiative, creativity, trust, openness, respect, courage, teamwork, collaboration… and failure.

Failure is good. Failure is how we become better people. We (and our children) need to learn how to embrace failure and use it to our advantage. This is what businesses expect (because of agile thinking). Is it fair on our children to raise them without giving them the skills that they will need in the real world? Education should be about more than accumulation of subject knowledge – it should be about making us more effective (and happier) individuals.

I believe that learning to adopt an agile mind-set, through Scrum or a similar framework can provide the answer for our education systems – and there is a growing movement around the world that believes the same thing. The journey getting there is not going to be easy – there are enough ‘agile’ failures in the business world to tell us that – which leads me to one final point in my tirade.

‘Agile’ is not a magic bullet – a one-size-fits-all tick list of actions that if you follow will immediately solve all of your problems. Agile, or perhaps ‘agility’ is a mind-set; a way of thinking. The businesses that fail in their transformation journey typically ‘do agile’. The ones that are successful become agile. They take small steps. Sometimes they fail but always they reflect, learn and improve. Continuously. That is being agile.

So what do I hope to achieve?

Of course, it would be fantastic if after reading this, some high powered influencer gave Boris a call and triggered a revolution resulting in the immediate redefining of the entire structure, operation and meaning of education in the UK to the ultimate satisfaction and happiness of every man, woman and child in the country. I’d accept that, of course, but more likely…

If I want agile to succeed, perhaps I should treat the challenge with an agile mind-set. That begins with a small step. Any step. We’ll see what happens, learn from it and take another step that will hopefully get us closer to our destination.

That first step is the creation of an online community at https://www.meetup.com/agile-in-education-uk to explore the whole arena of agile thinking in education. Through the community I hope to build awareness and an appetite to take other first steps on new agile journeys.

If I can influence one teacher who in turn improves the chances of one pupil to be happy and successful in their life, then every moment I spend on this mission of mine will be worth it.

I hope you will join me on my journey.

Andy Bleach