What does Agile has to do with skiing ? You may answer that skiing is about adapting to current snow conditions and finding the optimal curves. In fact the concept of “Agile” comes from the Agile Manifesto which has been written by 17 people having good eating and relaxing in a ski ressort from the Utah Mountains.
During intense discussions, the term “Agile” was in competition with the term “Adaptive”, and it is said that agile only won by a minimal vote difference. Just imagine if we would have “Adaptive Coaches” instead of “Agile Coaches”. I agree that Agile sounds better. It comes from the french “agile” which means being able to move easily and fast with the body or mind. This fits very good to as the flexibility of mind is key in the feedback, learning and change culture.
Principles from the Agile Manifesto
Since software development is a recent human activity, computer projects were managed in the early 2000s as classic projects. The same project management methods were applied as for the construction of buildings. There were huge specifications, and a breakdown of tasks on a project plan over several months. However, almost every project was behind schedule, overtime was common, and no one understood why so many projects were failing. It was time to revisit project management principles and introduce a new way of collaborating.
Four principles have therefore been erected in the Agile Manifesto to end the disaster of IT projects. These give importance to:
- People and their interactions rather than processes and tools
- Working software rather than exhaustive documentation;
- Collaboration with clients rather than contract negotiation;
- Adapting to change rather than executing a plan.
By applying these principles, as for example with the Scrum method, projects have become efficient again and agile methods have established themselves as the de facto standard for software development.
The Agile Manifesto is applicable for all organizations operating in a complex and volatile environment
If we generalize these principles to an organization, we understand that it seeks to:
- Put the individual and collaboration back at the center of the organization.
- Promote the creation of value in relation to the results of a process.
- Center the organization around the customer for the joint creation of value.
- Enable the organization to embrace change.
The novelty in IT projects was a previously unknown complexity and speed of adaptation. These principles have enabled projects to succeed because they allow for better management of complexity. Solving a client’s complex problems requires experts who work closely together and are very close to him to better understand his problem. We still have to experiment with solutions with small steps and collect as much feedback as possible. Agile culture therefore brings together practices that allow an organization to better evolve in a complex and rapidly changing environment. Since the digital age and the exponential increase in complexity and innovation, agile culture has become essential for many companies.