What is “agile”? And how can it help you?
Agile is really a set of principles aimed at creating the best, most valuable product in a humane way. Want to see this information is pictures? Check out Agile – What is it and why should I care?
Agile principles were laid out in a manifesto by a group of software development people in 2001. This is the manifesto in a nutshell…
We have come to value:
Individuals and interactions over processes and tools
Working software over comprehensive documentation
Customer collaboration over contract negotiation
Responding to change over following a plan
These ideas aren’t exactly new, and while stated by technical folk about software, they echo a lot of what we know about teams and people working in any kind of environment. Agile methods take those principles and provide a structure teams can follow to value the items on the left over the items on the right. Substitute “useful products or services” for “working software”, and you could use these values for anyone.
So, how does it work?
Agile teams collaboratively plan and prioritize their work. They focus on incrementally finishing small, valuable chunks of their products on a regular, short interval (most teams choose 1 or 2 week “sprints”. They use close proximity and daily stand-up conversations to stay coordinated and share the work (avoiding meetings – you rarely need them if you stay in sync). Every 1-2 weeks they show finished work to their customers and take a breath to plan, reflect and adapt to any changes or new learnings.
These principles and practices can help any team function better, but mission-driven and helping organizations, most of them not-for-profit, seem to “get the idea” most deeply, and can therefore see a lot more benefits. Agile provides a structure for focusing on what’s most important to do right now and embracing a deep sense of democracy and respect for one another… things not-for-profits already value.
Want to know more? I’d love to talk to you (I get pretty excited about this stuff). Check out some of the services I can provide, or just get in touch.
Here are some other handy references for reading:
A presentation I’ve created for you to steal: Agile – What is it and why should I care?
What is Agile? (with videos!)
Seven Core Practices of Agile
Real Options for Decision Making (this one’s a little nerdy!)
Respect – the Most Important Agile Practice of All