What is agile? Why is everyone talking about it, and how can my team be more agile? The concept of agile development and its associated benefits are nothing new. Agile principles originate from software development where they have proven to be extremely successful. This partially explains why different businesses and areas have been so eager to adopt agile methodologies.
Almost everyone has asked the question, “how can I be agile” at some point in their career. But before trying to jump into the details, let’s first look at agile from a wide view. Agile, in its purest form, is a set of management values and principles created for software development. It has achieved global notoriety due to its success within the rapidly fluctuating and customer-driven environment of software development. Although agile includes a set of management principles, I will present why the most important thing you should remember is:
Agile is a Mindset – So Learn and Absorb These 4 Values
It might seem strange, that agile in its most simplistic form is a mindset. But agile is a methodology for management. If a manager, management team, or organization does not have an agile mindset; any new teams, processes, or tools won’t help. Because, in the end, you will be working in the same way and just utilizing new tools. To make this point clearer, let’s first look at one of the core concepts of agile – its values.
The 4 Fundamental Values of Agile
1. Individuals and Interactions over Processes and Tools
This value emphasizes the importance of people because they are the ones who drive progress. If an organization values their tools or processes over their people, the teams won’t be as responsive or able to adapt to needed changes and developments.
2. Working Software over Comprehensive Documentation
Many organizations and sectors traditionally required large amounts of paperwork and documentation before, during, and after a project, and software development was no different. Agile states that organizations should streamline paperwork to the bare minimum, such as user stories (the essential requirements of a development). Agile takes the position that creating working outcomes is more valuable than the most extensive and comprehensive plan.
3. Customer Collaboration over Contract Negotiation
Traditional or waterfall developments begin by meeting with the customer and agreeing on requirements for a feature. Next, the team develops the feature, and the customer is not involved until the development is complete. In agile, the customer should be regularly included in the development process to speed up the process and ensure their needs are met. This involvement can be weekly check-ups or even having an employee be a member of the agile team participating in the daily meetings.
4. Responding to Changes over Following a Plan
Traditionally, companies have tried to reduce and eliminate uncertainties. This promoted the creation of detailed plans, strict definitions, and a lack of prioritized tasks. Agile crushes this idea by considering change as a good thing. Agile views your people to be your greatest resource. When an organization sticks to a strict plan, they are not using their people effectively. Your team is working on the project daily. They can see where issues might be and if something needs to be changed or modified.
Agility Starts from Within
Implementing agile can help teams and organizations increase collaboration, streamline processes, involve customers, and better react to changes. Achieving these benefits means making changes within your team but more importantly within yourself. Agile managers must have the right mindset and live the values of agile to get the most out of their new methodologies and tools.
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