When someone hears the word agile in a casual conversation, the first thing that comes in mind is flexibility. The same thing doesn’t always apply when we hear this term in business meetings or in work environments though. Specifically in business when this term is brought up something else comes in mind and that is project management. Often people seem to relate the term agile with a certain kind of process or methodology. The truth is Agile can be everything from a methodology, to a framework, to a specific way of doing things. But most importantly Agile is a State of Mind and you are about to find out why.
What is Agile in Project Management?
Realistically we cannot ignore the fact that the term agile is closely connected to project management. In essence the term agile has been used for many years to describe a certain project management methodology. In this methodology the process of developing a product or a service runs in small cycles that are called “sprints”. The reason why this happens is to help teams focus on continuous improvements when developing a product or a service.
The History of Agile
Initially the term Agile showed up in the late 1950’s but was first officially discussed in published papers around the 1970’s. Later on at the start of the millennia a group of developers came together to discuss about it further. Their goal was to combine their experience and find better, easier methods to develop products & services. That is when the Agile Manifesto was published.
What is the Agile Manifesto?
The Agile Manifesto was a formal proclamation of the Agile Project Management Methodology that was published by 17 software developers in 2001. In simple words it is a people-centric approach on project management that is build on 4 key values and 12 basic principles. This manifesto was published in order to define and give form to this methodology.
The Values of Agile
- Individuals and interactions over processes and tools.
- Working software over comprehensive documentation.
- Customer collaboration over contract negotiation.
- Responding to change over following a plan
The Principles of Agile
- The first priority is always customer satisfaction and you can achieve it through rapid and continuous delivery.
- In order to provide customers with a competitive advantage changing environments are embraced at any stage of the process.
- Products & services are delivered with higher frequency.
- Stakeholders & developers collaborate closely every day.
- Every person in the team should stay motivated throughout the entire process in order to achieve optimal results. Also teams must be provided with all necessary tools, support and trust in order to successfully complete project goals.
- Face to face meetings will always be the most efficient communication way.
- A working product in its final form is the ultimate measure of success.
- Sustainable development means maintaining a constant and ongoing pace.
- Agility is enhanced through continuous focus on technical excellence and proper design.
- Simplicity is essential.
- Teams that self-organise are more likely to produce results.
- Take breaks regularly in order to improve efficiency.
Why is Agile a State of Mind?
To be agile means to be flexible, to be fluid and to be able to adjust at any given circumstances. In order to do that you must have first adopted the agile mindset. Although agile in project management is considered a process and has a formal shape, in reality things are different. Agile is a set of values and principles that define a system of actions. The beautiful thing about it though is that you can shape it anyway you want. The agile methodology reminds us a lot of the processes followed in a restaurant in order for your food to be delivered on time. Different individuals work on different processes and all deliverables get in place at the right time. Sometimes though things change, something might get burnt or something might not be seasoned right. The Agile mindset is what helps you adapt, improvise and overcome every situation. If you are stuck in following a process or a routine you will never believe able to overcome problems that occur. Agile is a state of mind and it delivers solutions when needed. Adopt this mindset and you will soon notice the difference in your business.