The principles at the heart of Agile - value, quality, efficiency, and productivity in the workplace - have been around for some time. Dr. W. Edwards Deming, known for his Plan-Do-Study-Act (PDSA) principles, once said “It is not enough to just do your best or work hard. You must know what to work on.” These and other principles influenced the thinkers behind the Agile Manifesto, a guideline created primarily to facilitate faster, value-driven, client-focused software development.
Today Agile has evolved into a style of management that crosses discipline, industry and geographic lines. It is represented in at least 40 Agile Methods, including Scrum, Kanban, XP, Lean, etc. Through it all, there are four (4) principles that remain at the core of Agile:
- The Primacy of the Customer. Agile organizations are obsessed with delivering value to customers. In today’s world, customers have choice as they never have before and they expect speed, ease-of-use and customized solutions.
- Descaling Work for Small Teams. Agile organizations break down the work into small tasks that can be accomplished in short cycles with continuous feedback from the customer. Small successes along the way, building to an incrementally value-based solution.
- The Organization as a Network. Agile organizations consist of multiple cross-functional teams that collaborate toward a common goal of delighting the customer. They operate less as a giant warship, and more like a flotilla of tiny speedboats, ready to change course at a moment’s notice.
- Nurturing Culture. Agile organizations are committed to nurturing and strengthening the entrepreneurial mindset and behavior throughout the organization. The support of individual, team, corporate and customer goals must be systemic for Agile to grow.
Agile seems to have become the driving organizational principle for the 21st century. To read more about it and the ideas noted here, check out the Forbes.com article titled ‘What is Agile – The Four Essential Elements’.