My Predictions for Agile for 2018

Not being a gambling man I usually don’t go in for predictions and the such like, however as a consultancy and community founder it is part of my role to listen to clients and the industry (most of whom are my friends!). So I thought I would share what trends I see and how I expect this will play out in 2018.

Of course, one paragraph doesn’t sum up a whole year, these are just my opinions about what buzz I see and have seen in the community.


I saw 2015 as the year of the frameworks. We were all so excited to see Agile based frameworks coming out into the early adopter community. Disappointingly, the frameworks don’t work out of the box.


This led to 2016, the year of returning to the heart of agile for the early adopters. Moving away from prescriptive frameworks towards deriving customised solutions for each organisation, based on the mindset, values, and principles of the manifesto.

2016 also brought focus on the whole organisation and not just IT or development teams. It was also the rise of agile coaching as a mass majority role.


2017 was about leadership awareness. Moving towards enterprise agility has shown that it is the mindset and social awareness of the leadership team that sets the level of psychological safety. Only with leadership support can organisations self-organise to lower the cost of change and to innovate. We also saw the early mass majority be interested in the frameworks that the early adaptors have moved beyond.


And now for 2018. I see the following:

Negative things:

I predict that:

  • there will be a continuation of the mass majority trying to use centrally planned or consultant based change efforts rather than self-organising/self-learning approaches. Most organisations who choose the centrally planned route take approximately 18 months to fail and then adapt the approach, and build a customised solution based upon the good things they have learnt or have been useful from their framework. Unfortunately, this often means cycling through another centrally planned initiative.
  • the demand for help will continue to outstrip the number of qualified agile coaches with professional coaching experience. Agile is people over process and without coaches having basic skills in developing people, organisations have little chance of success. Unfortunately, most organisations don’t know what they need.
  • Agile coaches will continue to be hired too low down in the hierarchy with little or zero influence to change or address the things that matter.
  • Leaders still won’t take the time to learn about how to manage and lead people or how to design responsive and adaptable organisations. Many leaders are still stuck trying to satisfy their personal status need and this results in behaviour that indicates they think everyone else needs to change but they don’t. This is the primary reason for agility failure.

And to finish on the positive things:

I predict that:

  • there will be a decrease in the number of large-scale out-sourced agile transformations and an increase in specialised out-sourced help that is targeted at specific problems. This will more in line with agile in an agile way.
  • there will be an increase in interest from senior leadership/exec for Agile/Lean to solve business problems but this is still caveated with the above negative prediction. I would expect to see more specialist training and workshops aimed at leadership that is attended by leaders and not coaches (but I think this is still only 65% probability)
  • the increase in professional coaching and servant leadership that we have already seen will continue and the result will be a rise in self-awareness and psychological safety of teams. However, for now, this will remain localised rather than organisational.
  • through exposure to professional coaching and becoming more self-aware and following the servant leadership model, Agile coaches will ask leadership: “What are you trying to achieve and how can I help?” instead of pushing their own agenda of doing or being agile.
  • we will see a significant increase in the creation and the participation of industry standards. The industry desperately needs people who know what they are talking about and have the experience to back it up, and most importantly for employers/clients to be able to discern between those who can truly help and those who will maintain the status quo.
    For example, ICAgile is making huge steps to raise this benchmark through knowledge AND experience-based certification in the Agile space although I do expect to see the usual negative feedback about certification especially from those who are not qualified. I expect employers and coaches to engage more in raising the quality of coaching.
  • we will not see a real tipping point in 2018, however, the move towards healthier, more productive and adaptive organisations, that are fun to work for, will continue, and more people will find hope that they can enjoy what they do every day.
  • AWA will continue to run free community events flying people from all over the world to London and New York to spread practical information, theoretical research, and fun-to-attend learning workshops.

This is just a bit of fun, don’t take it too seriously.

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