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What does Agility mean to you?

‘Agile’ is a concept that in recent years has increased in airplay and popularity in the world of projects, and indeed in the wider business world. The term is so widely used now that it immediately creates images in many minds of people standing in groups, discussing backlogs and actively getting things done.

In recent times we have often observed commentary around, and had numerous client conversations about, challenged or failed Agile implementations, Agile disillusionment, or to coin a phrase, Agile apathy.

How can something that it still a growing trend also be causing challenges?

We believe a fundamental reason for these challenges is a desire to ‘just be Agile’, or to jump into an Agile solution without starting from first principles.

So, what is Agile?

  • Is it all summarised in the Agile Manifesto?
  • Is it a software development model / method?
  • Is it a set of cultural principles and values?
  • Is it Lean / SAFe / Scrum / Kanban?
  • Is it ‘A’gile or ‘a’gile?

The short answer is ‘it depends’. Any or all of the definitions posed above might be appropriate for any environment. Or none of them! Let’s focus on the last question posed above – ‘A’gile often refers to a more formally defined framework (or flavour of a framework) whereas ‘a’gile often refers to a set of principles or operating guidelines. But even these terms are sometimes confused or used interchangeably. Its hard to talk about Agile / agile in a consistent and clear way unless there is common agreement about what it is.

So then – do we need a single, universal definition to rule them all? Is this what the Agile Manifesto provides? Our view is that there isn’t one definition. At the most fundamental level, it should consistent with the definition of the word agile ‘to be able to move quickly and easily’.

Beyond that – a team, business, or organisation simply needs a definition that works for them, and is commonly understood and applied.

Once a definition of Agile / agile has been reached, then its interaction with other models, methods, values and principles can also be defined and agreed. Even more importantly, the definition of Agile / agile success can be defined, communicated and tracked. Perhaps then, Agile apathy can be better managed, if not avoided.

In summary – and back to the original question. What is Agile? It is whatever you or your organisation define it to be and, critically, success is also what you define it to be. Manage and track to that definition of success, and you and your team and on their way!

Need help in defining what Agile/agile can be for you? Talk to us today – we are here to help.