ALE2011—The WHY: Vision and Purpose

I started to write about our amazing organisational model two weeks ago. Before that, we created a vision using StrategicPlay, wrote about What’s In It For Me… Yet still people keep asking WHY. As I value the persons asking me highly, I take this as a clear sign that our purpose has still not been visible enough. I’ll give it another go.


Some of My Agile Friends

What Did I Miss Before ALE?

I joined the agile community two years ago. To not repeat myself, I’ll only summarise the outcome, and do a perfection game.

In January 2011, I would have given the Agile Community as I perceived it 5 points out of 10.

What I liked about it:

  • I found a lot of like-minded friends,
  • Some of these friends have become very dear and close,
  • I learned very much from the people, through personal meetings, blogs and Twitter,
  • I felt welcome in the group, more than in any other group I’ve been in,
  • I shared and got feedback, improving my thinking, my knowledge and myself.
What I felt could be improved:
  • The community should include all roles important to Agile. I’d have liked to see more managers and developers.
  • The community should be international. I met people from many different countries. More people should have that chance.
  • A larger percentage of the active people should be agile, rather than just preach it.
  • The sharing of stories, knowledge, experience, and material should be increased across borders and companies.
And to be frank (improvements in perfection games should be positive, so I place it below), I’d like more people in the community to be less in it for the money. By which I don’t mean we should not be paid. But we won’t be able to change mindsets and cultures if our prime motivator is earning money. We need a better WHY.


Before I go into my personal motivation again, let’s look at what the community expects from the network:

I know the quality is not perfect, and I know it is difficult to follow these metaphors when you’ve not been there, but try to.

30 people built their individual models of how they wanted the network to be, joined these into shared models at different tables and then created this final model for everyone to see and touch. It’s much better than words.

What I Have Now

Many Countries

Many Countries

Obviously, none of this is finished. ALE is growing and needs to mature. But for me, many hopes have already been fulfilled.

  • We started valuable initiatives like #ALESOS, the ALE book(s) and ALE@Universities.
  • We organised a conference! We brought people from more than 30 countries together!
  • We brought the right people in. I’ve never attended an event of this size with such a high percentage of openly sharing practitioners (in contrast to people selling themselves or some product). And I’ve never seen sponsors so well integrated and so kindly commented upon either…
  • We created connections and started conversations. Agile and Lean is all about people, and we grow and become strong through connections and conversations.

What I Wish For the Future

Stephen Parry told me the day before ALE2011 started:

“Companies like McKinsey and Accenture have been selling Lean for years by promising executives to cut costs. The teach these enterprises to do the wrong things righter. They are now starting to sell Agile in the same way. As a strong network, with our use of self-organisation, distributed leadership and social media, we can create a competition.”

This is what I wish to become true.



  1. YvesHanoulle
    October 1, 2011

    Why do you need to compete with Mckinsey etc? Why not work together and help their clients see the better way?

    • Olaf
      October 1, 2011

      Interesting thought. If that works out, I won’t object…
      Thanks, take care


Leave a Reply