Agile Lean Europe – Why ALE might matter to you!

I joined the Agile Lean Europe (ALE) network early this year, when it was founded. And I am excited being involved with it’s current growing by means of it’s first event (ALE 2011) and supporting it’s spreading in my regional environment (community, customers, research). The ALE-story is evolving and it’s worthwhile staying tuned or even coming on board.

Let’s go for Agile

Ten years after the foundation of the agile manifesto, “Agile” seems to have reached some sort of establishment, maybe even hype. Many success stories of large and smaller organizations have been published. Many service providers are talking about Agile (also larger ones). Increasingly today’s IT job offerings mention things like Scrum and XP. We not only read about approaches such as Kanban, DevOps and agility in software, but also about agility in business and organizations in general. Certification programs are not only limited to those of the Scrum Alliance – PMI has started to rethink a handout for agile project managers, iSQI has launched an extensive certificate for agile testers.

Agile Reality

Besides the good news, we meet many organizations and individuals wondering about HowTo’s. How to start Agile? How to comply with existing standards & regulations? How to establish sustainable results? How to adapt on management level?  How to change an organization towards Agile? etc etc etc

So what’s the reality? As with any other discipline Agile also requires expertise and experience. And there are even fields of application not yet fully explored or covered by some sort of “top ten recipes”. Communities about different agile flavours are active worldwide and meet regularly on regional levels. This allows for discussion and exchange with peers.

But there are limits depending on the individual region.  Contact to global communities or attendance / participation in events might be considered elitist. Access to certain expertise might not be available locally. Application of Lean & Agile might become an obstacle in such regions. But whatever the concrete matter of investigation is about – there are many experts out there. And it is possible to contact, connect and talk – that’s where Agile Lean Europe (ALE) comes into the game.

Agile Lean Europe (ALE) – What’s in for you?!

I already blogged about ALE’s initiation. Based upon the broad knowledge and expertise of it’s supporting individuals, ALE offers a variety of possible benefits. It’s not a new organizational body, its future scope is open – but in any case it’s one of the most energized self-organizing network you may currently find all over Europe concerning Agile. And there is something in for everybody – you may benefit from connecting with ALE, but more than this: by connecting with ALE you may influence some of its actual directions. Depending upon you position and background there are various attractors offered by ALE.

You as an Expert?

Expertise comes from education, application and concluding experience. As experts we have to be aware of not letting our own expertise become dogmatic, uncritical or even misleading. We need to adapt new knowledge and challenge our own positions regularly. We need to elaborate and discuss new ideas and approaches. Sometimes we also need to take care for self-marketing by means of publications or participation in events. There come times when we even need to drop some out-dated expertise and reboot in favor of innovation. That’s the couple of use cases, where ALE may provide you as an individual a tremendous platform. Get on board, bring in your expertise, talk to peers, rethink, adapt and spread the word in your environment. Gain insight from others and make ALE happen with your own contribution.

You as a Company?

ALE is hosting individuals only. But some individuals are working in companies – whether being customer organizations or IT service providers or anything alike. Companies call in consultants when going for agile projects at certain times. They send their employees on trainings or have them providing trainings inside the group or outside to other groups or customers. This again requires expertise, exchange, probably many decisions and ongoing change. Having your people (employees & consultants) joining ALE brings you in a bunch of ideas, alternative concepts and access to a much broader set of contacts and resources. As an organization it may be easier gaining access to benchmarks. And not to forget your opportunity for sponsorship at non-profit events such as ALE2011 unconference.

You as a Community?

There is a vast number of agile practitioner communities all over Europe. Some of them emerged from specific methods like Scrum, others relate to more generic practices such as requirements management – but all of them follow the same idea: get together with local peers, exchange experience, talk about issues from ongoing daily business and – last but not least – socialize. Communities are important but as per design limited in regional and contextual scope. For communities ALE may serve as a networking hub – connecting cross Europe, with individuals and / or other communities. As regional community you may benefit from experts joining your round-tables when staying in town, from rotation of new topics and ideas (in and out) and from staying in touch with new international developments as well as any kind of international events. Get into ALE, join ALE2011 and start networking internationally.

You as a Student or Education Provider?

Agile methods are gaining more momentum within IT courses at universities and other educational institutions. But they still do not occupy too many lecturing hours and would need deeper education, when it comes to deeper practice or neighboring subjects such as project management or marketing. Research across Europe provides promising results concerning agile topics. But still it is of ongoing vital interest liaising practitioners with researchers – raising topics of interest to be considered for research and bringing back results into the field. From the very beginning ALE has been keen to connect with education, research and students. One first idea for activity is ALE University, looking for a first baseline of current research and potentially moving towards an agile research marketplace. Contact ALE, connect with experts in order to gain input or present your own research results – or start learning early. You as today’s student may be an important agile player of tomorrow’s IT business.

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