Having found early success as individuals, the VDS Partners realised that collaborating with others is the only way of tackling substantial problems. The experience of working for and alongside consulting companies who fail to understand that the term ‘Agile’ is simply an adjective used to describe the adaptiveness of a process, not a buzz-word or something to be sold as a commodity, led us to believe there must be better ways of working.

Understanding the conflict in the autocratic consultancy structure, where the general rule is “If you’re not a part of the solution, there’s good money to be made in prolonging the problem,” we looked around for alternatives and were impressed by the partnership model of John Lewis. In recognition of this, our structure gives Partners freedom in the way they manage engagements, while also giving them the rights and responsibilities of ownership through active involvement in the business. In other words, we practice the self-organisation only preached by others to their customers.

Taking the first sentence of the Agile manifesto as our guideline, “We are uncovering better ways of developing software by doing it and helping others do it,” our first and foremost commitment is to customer satisfaction through the delivery of improvements.

We might also argue the manifesto; doesn’t go far enough, was written by engineers and is focussed mainly on engineering problems, not business problems. We think the manifesto should say, “We are uncovering better ways of running organisations by doing it and helping others do it,” as this better reflects the work we do today.