An introduction into Agile
We often get questions about how Agile works, what the main techniques are, how it can help an organization, and what a team structure could look like. In this article we will give an answer to all of these questions!
Market situations are changing rapidly, driven by digital transformation. As new players emerge, traditional business models are rapidly becoming ineffective to compete. More than ever organizations and businesses must learn how to respond and adapt to change, or even stronger, learn to "embrace change" to stay competitive. They need to adapt their managerial frameworks and infrastructure models to manage their business in the Digital Age.
"The only certainty we have these days, is that we don't know anything for certain."
This means to develop a flexible mindset, being open for changes that you did not anticipate, and accepting a high degree of uncertainty in every endeavor you take.
Business Agility has value for all different kinds of processes in which it is uncertain which approach is the best, and what the exact outcome will be. Past performance is no longer guarantee of future results in the new Digital Age. Organizations wanting to initiate any type of development process, whether product related or services related, will benefit from adopting Agile.
When talking about "working Agile", it is important to understand that working according to Agile principles is more important than adopting a particular methodology or practicing specific techniques or following the rules of a particular framework. Since Agile is a mindset, it is more something you "are" rather than something you "do".
This is what makes it such a challenge for organizations to start working Agile: because they have to go through an (often painful) transformation process to embed the Agile principles in the mind of all the people who are involved. But the benefits are just great! Achieving "Business Agility" for an organization means they can react swiftly to changing situations and to new requirements, more rapidly than most of their competitors. It means having the ability to recognize early when something is going to be successful or not and having the audacity to adapt the plan accordingly. It means being focused on results and on working products, more than on processes and tools. It means being customer centric and seeking constant collaboration with the customer. It also means striving for the highest possible quality level based on relentless improvement and constant evaluation of everything you do, to learn from your mistakes.
The Agile manifesto
The Agile mindset is described in a "Manifesto", a document with 4 value statements and 12 underlying principles. This document was originally created in 2001 by an international group of leading software developers, who were looking for a new way of coping with complex reality of software development. The most commonly practiced "Waterfall" way-of-working was not bringing satisfactory results and often lead to projects failing: budgets were exceeded by multiples and deadlines were exceeded big time, while the results delivered were not meeting the customer objectives or were not user friendly. This group was not able to reach alignment over adopting an alternative methodology to replace Waterfall, but they did all agree on the 4 values and the 12 principles.
Figure 1 - Manifesto for Agile Software Development. Source: agilemanifesto.org