What Does “Going Agile” Really Mean?

I hear people say “we’re going Agile.” When I ask them what they mean by this statement, the most popular answer seems to be “we’re changing our processes in the way we deliver.” This external-focused change will not supply the success and benefits many want to achieve.

going agile

Changing the mechanics of how we work seems like an easy place to start. Training sessions are focused on telling and showing people “how” to use a process. We attempt to put some “why” in the discussion, but it is viewed as a theoretical why. Describing the Agile Manifesto and principles to someone gives information they can reference when choosing how they work.

External changes, like process, only effect short term gains. Internal changes, like values, yield long term gains. People and processes continue to evolve through inspection and adaption. The manifesto and principles are the core components to inventing and reinventing our agile journey.

We use learned behaviors and previous experiences to guide our actions. We cannot change our behaviors until we internalize “being agile” and align our values to the Agile Manifesto and its principles. This personalization of the manifesto and its principles brings the art and science of the agile frameworks together. One without the other will create chaos in every environment. People are personally invested in what they do — sometimes this investment is a passive investment because they have not aligned “what” they do to their value system of “why” they do it.

Communication, trust, collaboration are themes that resonate in the Agile Manifesto and principles. My experience of successful agile transitions and adoptions is about embracing and actioning the manifesto and principles.