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Author's profile photo Tomas Matjaz Zidek

What The Heck Is Agile?


What is Agile? Many people use this term, yet many people have hard time trying to define what it really is.

The problem is not that these people do not understand Agile properly, the problem is with the word itself. Agile is an overused buzzword with vague meaning. To define “Agile” we need to go to the beginning of Agile Movement.

In 2001 17 “lightweight methodologists” signed the Agile Manifesto at Snowbird ski resort in the Wasatch mountains of Utah.

Manifesto for Agile Software Development

Individuals and interactions over Processes and Tools
Working Product over Comprehensive Documentation
Customer Collaboration over Contract Negotiation
Responding to change over Following a plan


12 Principles behind the Agile Manifesto

The problem with deciding if something is truly agile is that different people interpret the Agile Manifesto and the following 12 principles differently.

However, if something is claiming to be agile, it should at least somehow satisfy these 12 principles.

  • Our highest priority is to satisfy the customer
    through early and continuous delivery
    of valuable software.
  • Welcome changing requirements, even late in
    development. Agile processes harness change for
    the customer’s competitive advantage.
  • Deliver working software frequently, from a
    couple of weeks to a couple of months, with a
    preference to the shorter timescale.
  • Business people and developers must work
    together daily throughout the project.
  • Build projects around motivated individuals.
    Give them the environment and support they need,
    and trust them to get the job done.
  • The most efficient and effective method of
    conveying information to and within a development
    team is face-to-face conversation.
  • Working software is the primary measure of progress.
  • Agile processes promote sustainable development.
    The sponsors, developers, and users should be able
    to maintain a constant pace indefinitely.
  • Continuous attention to technical excellence
    and good design enhances agility.
  • Simplicity–the art of maximizing the amount
    of work not done–is essential.
  • The best architectures, requirements, and designs
    emerge from self-organizing teams.
  • At regular intervals, the team reflects on how
    to become more effective, then tunes and adjusts
    its behavior accordingly.

Not every delivery process is able to satisfy all of the 12 principles. However, if the process is having hard time satisfying majority of them, it should not be considered an agile process. In recent years many waterfall methodologies tried to become more agile by introducing mostly agile terms while keeping the same sequential development process.

In these cases, I always recommend to think about the principles again.

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