We are going to witness the collapse of the agile training industry. There will be no more agile courses because Agile will be the new normal.
Twenty years ago, I taught people how to use PCs. I worked for a training company that made quite a bit of money migrating users from WordPerfect to MS Word, from Lotus 1–2–3 to Excel, and from dBase to Access. And I earned a generous living writing courseware for Microsoft Windows workshops and teaching Visual Basic in two-day programming classes.
Fortunately, I switched careers and escaped the PC training industry before it all collapsed.
Nowadays, nobody I know attends a two-day class to learn how to use an iOS or Android device, even though these ecosystems are more complex than the PCs of twenty years ago. The industry has become a lot smarter. The software itself teaches people how to use it, at the moment when they need to know. Why bother storing knowledge in people’s heads with a workshop? Continuously changing software is the new normal. We learn how to use it on the fly, depending on our context.
In his book The Inevitable, Kevin Kelly writes that, as humans, we are becoming the “eternal newbies”. The world around us changes faster and faster. It’s impossible to keep up and store all kinds of knowledge in our heads. The half-time of information keeps shrinking every year. In many cases, it’s better to store knowledge in software rather than in wetware and only serve it up at the moment when someone needs it.
Ironically, when I wanted to highlight a paragraph in The Inevitable, it appeared that the highlighting feature of the Kindle app had changed. I had to re-learn how highlighting worked, and the software taught me, immediately proving Kevin Kelly’s point.
Does anyone still buy maps at gas stations to learn how to get from A to B? I don’t because I ask software to navigate me through traffic at the moment when I need this. Learning a city’s layout comes with actively exploring and navigating, not from studying maps in a course. I firmly believe that we will experience the same in organizations.
No More Agile Courses
An entire agile training industry has emerged around the transformation of command-and-control companies. Scrum classes, Kanban classes, SAFe workshops, Management 3.0 workshops, the list of agile brands is long and impressive. But everything is going to change, faster and faster. Ironically, Agile training classes will not be able to keep up because everything is going to be agile. Been there. Done that. I’ve seen it all before. In just a few years, we will ask machines to guide us through our work-lives. And that’s why we are going to witness the collapse of the agile training industry. There will be no more agile courses because Agile will be the new normal.
Why bother teaching people what iterations are when the software that they use can show them? Why spend time storing knowledge about agile practices in people’s heads when machines will be able to guide us through our work-lives? There is definitely no need to teach anyone agile leadership practices or team building practices when any leader or creative worker can just ask their machines for assistance.
Why spend time storing knowledge about agile practices in people’s heads when machines will be able to guide us through our work-lives?
Navigation and Exploration
Don’t get me wrong. Workshops will still exist in the future. There will always be a need for people to get away from their work, meet with new people, and enjoy new insights. But the focus will shift from studying and training to navigating and exploring. By focusing on the discovery of knowledge, rather than the transfer of knowledge, we have the opportunity to liberate the power of the human mind and to refocus workshops on what it means to be human: creativity, empathy, mystery… We will not be patiently listening in agile courses to what others already know and storing that in our heads for later reproduction. Instead, we will prefer to explore what few people know and we will store what we found in machines, so that it can be served up at the moment when someone needs it. No more agile courses.
The Agile training industry is going to collapse. It is inevitable.
But this time, I am not going to escape from this industry before it all collapses.
I want to be one of those who make it happen. :-)