What is agile working? A clear explanation in 500 words

Agile is a way of thinking, working and organizing that is focused on one goal: making and keeping a team agile. The term originates from software development, but other sectors are now embracing this philosophy.

To understand the principles behind agile working, it is helpful to first explain the opposite: a traditional way of managing projects such as the waterfall method.

Suppose your company receives an assignment to build a website. Step one is mapping out the wishes and requirements of the customer. Then a design follows, the website is built, tested and finally delivered.

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This rigid approach often leads to problems in IT projects. It is difficult to adjust halfway through. Each subsequent phase cannot begin until the previous one has been completed. You can’t go back, just like you can’t swim up against a waterfall.

If an error is nevertheless discovered, an entire phase has to be restarted and the following steps are repeated. That means huge delay.

Agile working according to the Agile Manifesto

This problem was what 17 programmers wanted to solve when they gathered in Snowbird, Utah in 2001 to write the Agile Manifesto. They were looking for methods to build software faster, more creatively and more flexible – ‘agile’ is English for agile, nimble or agile.

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They recorded this in the Agile Manifesto, which in Dutch contains only 87 words. It reads:

We show that there are better ways to develop software (and products and services) by demonstrating that it works in practice and by helping others with it. That’s why we prefer:1. People and their mutual interaction over processes and tools2. Working products over comprehensive documentation3. Customer collaboration over contract negotiations4. Responding to Change Over Following a Plan While we appreciate everything stated on the right, we place more value on what is stated on the left.

We show that there are better ways

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Agile itself is not a method, but an umbrella term for various principles and methodologies. There are dozens of these, of which scrum and kanban are the best known. Characteristics of agile organizations are self-managing teams and customer-oriented working.

Agile working in practice

How do you build the website from the beginning in an agile way? Instead of coming up with the whole plan in one go, break the development into blocks of two to four weeks, depending on the method you follow.

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Each period is a project in itself, in which a part of the website is conceived, developed, tested, presented and assessed.The website gradually takes shape and the customer comes up with new wishes. You can take that with you in the next development period.

By working agile, you reduce the chance that the customer is dissatisfied with the result at the end of the ride.

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Author: Jobly