Agile methodologies to the world of business came from the IT industry. The assumptions of "agility" are derived from the Agile Manifesto, which was to be used to develop completely new methods far from cascading project management..
Agile methodologies do not present a single, unified approach to management. Their common assumption is a vision of the evolution of the final result of the project, regardless of its level of advancement. It is not about bending reality to our plans, but rather about flexible thinking.
Genesis in the IT industry
Agile methodologies seem to be a novelty revolutionizing the world of business. The truth is that the IT world has been using them for many years. The first traces of using the "agility" assumptions can be traced back to the early 1990s, but the name Agile appeared only in 2001. On February 11, seventeen people working in small, self-organized development teams met at the Utah Ski Resort. Their work is based on lightweight methods. These include Scrum, Extreme Programming, Feature-Driven Development and Clear Crystal. Besides, the meeting was attended by the originators of some of the above methods.
The meeting was purely social in nature, but at the same time the participants exchange their experiences gained during their professional careers. During the three-day debate they found many elements common to the methods used and decide that the name "light" is not adequate. The term Agile in their opinion, better reflected the essence of the issue under consideration. However, they did not stop there. The four participants clarified the general assumptions. This is how they created the "Manifesto for Agile Software Development", which was signed by the rest of the participants, recognizing that it adequately reflects their reflections on this matter. The Agile Manifesto emphasized four overarching values of agile working methods.
Manifesto for Agile Software Development in four steps
Individuals and interactions over processes and tools
Working software over comprehensive documentation
Customer collaboration over contract negotiation
Responding to change over following a plan
The text of the manifesto, which has remained unchanged until today, is available at agilemanifesto.org.
Are you Agile?
The creators of the manifesto went one step further, however, and in addition to four rather general rules, they prepared twelve more points of efficient, agile software development. However, their content is so universal that it can be easily applied to other areas of business. The main features include:
- The customer and his needs are the most important,
- Agile, unlike cascading management, treats change as a natural element. Improvements at every stage of the process increase competitiveness,
- Efficient and direct communication at every stage is essential,
- Sustainability must be ensured for all project participants.
After all, Agile methods are just a means to a goal. Martin Fowler, one of the signatories of the Manifesto, explains years later that for them it is just a way of working that they like, not the heart of the matter at hand. If they come up with a better way to implement projects, they will adopt it without hesitation.
The agile approach assumes that we have the right skills and are motivated to act immediately. When we act as a team, all changes in the way the project is implemented are made together. As long as we remain within the agile philosophy, we can speak of ourselves as "agile". Unfortunately, these methods are not universal. Their usefulness in the context of large projects will be severely limited, even to make it difficult to manage.