What is Agile?


Agile is perhaps best described as a movement to enable ‘business’ organizations to be more agile, iterative, incremental, and adaptive.  Agile is usually associated with software development, but is really, far broader.  In general, people want to be ‘more agile’, meaning usually more adaptive and responsive to the quick changes in the business world.  We might say: faster in helping the customers.

In the software development community, 17 men defined the Agile Manifesto in 2001.  The Agile Manifesto is a good summary of the basic ideas around agile. At the same time, they also defined 12 Agile Principles. With a few minor changes (substituting ‘product’ for ‘software’ and similar), the Manifesto and the Principles are a good summary of what it is to be agile.

In our opinion, Agile is very similar to Lean, especially Lean product development. (We feel that agile’s sweet spot is new product development.)

In Agile, the two best known sub-groups are Extreme Programming (aka “XP”, which was the first big thing in Agile) and Scrum.  Again, we think that Scrum is just as applicable outside software development as inside it.  But Scrum is often thought of as “one of the agile software development methodologies.”  There are many other methods that are considered part of Agile.