What is Agile?
Within the last decade, Agile has become a buzz word within businesses, job descriptions, project management and software development teams. Depending on your background or profession, Agility within a business can mean different things to different people.
For example, Managing Directors and CEOs typically refer to AGILE as being a mindset or culture which they would like to steer their business towards to. Developers, Scrum Masters and Product Owners typically refer to Agile as a framework they utilise to manage productivity and quality within their software development teams. Organisations and professionals choose to adopt Agile principles in the belief (and proof in some instances) that working with an Agile mindset or framework improves the chances of their business or project being a success.
It is important to note that Agile definitely goes beyond software development frameworks which it has become synonymous for. It’s an ideology – a way of thinking. Regardless of the context, the underlying themes to an Agile mindset or Agile framework include;
- Change is inevitable. The ability to develop, test and pivot quickly and change course if necessary is paramount.
- Deliver value to the customer and therefore to the business as early as possible. What value can be returned to the customer as early as possible within the process or project?
- A test and fail mindset approach aimed at promoting growth. An understanding that embracing your failures can improve your chances of success.
- Continual growth, retrospectively monitoring process and progress to identify areas for improvement moving forward.
Agile Management & Culture
Rapid advances in digital technologies has forced businesses to rethink the way they run their everyday operations and manage their employees. Due to technology, customer demands and rapidly changing business models, integrating and adapting to digital technology can’t be seen as a one-off activity, or something to revisit every few years. Instead, adaptation must be frequent and constantly evolving. The adoption of an Agile management mind-set provides a way for modern businesses to best deal with the accelerated changes in markets caused by digital shifts in technology.
An agile mind-set within business has three key characteristics.
- Success comes from learning, and learning comes from change. The agile mind-set ventures enthusiastically toward innovation and change, and it’s your adaptability to change, to learning new things that moves your company forward.
- Failure is a necessary feedback mechanism for learning continuously. The more feedback you get, the better you can ultimately deliver. No manager, business owner, employee wants their business or project to fail, but it’s the absence of the fear of failing that will propel your organisation forward.
- Most importantly the Agile mind-set supports continual learning, tolerance of ambiguity, and a collaborative spirit. An Agile mindset is not an individual personality trait, your teams, peers and business must grow with you as your Agile mindset evolves, matures and develops.
To learn more about how to create an Agile mindset and culture within your business, view our new Project Management Learning Library
Agile Project Management
Some of the more common AGILE software development frameworks include SCRUM, Kanban and Extreme programming. Within these frameworks lies the ability for teams to collaborate, self-organise and collaborate. The Agile SCRUM framework for example utilises various team ceremonies including stand-ups, retrospectives, planning sessions and sprints. The aim here is to iteratively add value to the product, provide transparency and learnings for team members, and to utilise the teams’ knowledge (as a whole) to problem solve. An in depth look at these various frameworks is beyond the scope of this article however our Project Management Learning Library does provide users with more information and resources on Agile techniques and frameworks.