The Basics: A Guide to the Agile Approach and Why It Matters to Your Company

Welcome to 2022! I thought an excellent way to start the new year would be to take a few minutes and review the basics of Agile. This might be an old topic for some of you, but, over the past year, I have heard plenty of stories about companies that were having trouble adopting it in 2021. So, I thought it might be beneficial to revisit the fundamentals of Agile, its importance to organizations, and what you need to know to start applying it.

What is Agile?

The Agile approach to solution development has been getting a lot of traction in the last decade. However, it is often a misconception that Agile is a particular method. In reality, Agile is a set of values and principles that improve the overall desirability of a work product when applied to a development lifecycle, business strategy, or another task. Like any set of positive values, Agile helps affect how individuals approach work and tackle problems. It does what the word implies; agile is about making fast, purposeful, and more well-coordinated movements and changes in our work product and flow.

From an outside observer’s perspective, an Agile project may look like any other approach, with teams identifying the project goals and deliverables, planning, and doing development work. However, the approach differs because teams apply Agile values, which change how things are delivered and improved. One of the significant changes is that the goal is to produce early versions of a working product that satisfies part of the customer requirements every few weeks or months rather than once at the end of development. Doing this allows teams to review progress with customers in smaller, more focused increments, enabling them to gain valuable feedback and critical insight on improving, expanding, or even dropping requirements altogether. Agile values and principles also profoundly affect communication, collaboration, and responsiveness. To better understand why this happens, let’s explore these values in a little more depth.

What are the Guiding Values of Agile?

The first value is Individuals and Interactions. Agile understands that people and teams are the foundation for any product delivery. This is why Agile companies put their employees at the center of their business, allowing employees to fulfill their potential and deliver high value to their customers. This principle, when practiced, also enables an environment that fosters effective communication between individuals. This improves collaboration and builds a healthy diversity of skills and ideas, which helps to speed up product development.