The Agile ABC

Our Vision? We want to push the Agile transformation forward and help companies to develop an innovative corporate culture. Therefore, we will introduce you to Agile topics with a series of upcoming blog posts and try to make it “easy to understand” for everyone within 5 minutes. Starting point is the “A” like Agile – What is that hype about “Agile”?   

Aim of this Content: After reading our post, you will have a comprehensive understanding what “Agile” in general means. 

Historical extract and delivery challenges:  Back in the 90s and late 2000, 72 % of software projects did not meet their deadlines as expected.  

Why? Processes in the software development were not flexible and software development is complex (that becomes obvious when you look at Cynefin). The situation got even worse over time, as the pace of technological cycles accelerated, which lead to rapidly changing markets and products. This was precisely where Agile methods were urgently needed and came into action. They enable companies to react faster and more flexible to changes or new requirements.  

Is Agility the key to success? The Agile Performer Index proves that Agility is a key factor for success in a dynamic and digitalized environment. If the level of Agility is related to financial performance, the most Agile companies are 2.7 times more successful than the average non-Agile companies.  

Source: Goetzpartners, Agile Performer Index study, 2017, https://www.goetzpartners.com/news/article/1st-european-agile-performer-index-agility-is-a-competitive-advantage-for-organizations

How does Agile software development succeed? We will give you an overall understanding and for this we will explain the different layers of the Agile Onion. In the graphic, you can see that the larger the onion circle, the less obvious but more powerful it becomes. Let’s take a closer look:   

Agile Onion

Agile Mindset

The Agile Mindset is the outer ring of the onion and the most powerful layer that encompasses all other Agile topics.1 An Agile Mindset is the foundation that helps to easily overcome (unexpected) obstacles. When this understanding is not given, a fixed mindset sets in, where there is fear of failure and attempts to reduce uncertainty through extensive planning. Understanding the Agile Mindset will help organizations to “become” Agile.2

Values and Principles 

The Agile Manifesto defines the foundation for Agile process models. It is a brief document with four values and twelve principles. The twelve principles extend the sentences that make up the values. It was written in 2001 by seventeen software practitioners. Since then, the Agile Manifesto hasn’t been changed. But the working environment around Agile couldn’t be more different. That’s why there are many “new” approaches today which build on the foundation of Agile software development. 3

Agile Practices

You want to start moving?  We would like to quote Christopher Webb, who is well known for his Agile landscape which is depicted in the infographic below. “Being Agile isn’t as simple as following one single methodology. In fact, Agile encompasses a number of different practices and frameworks, often referred to as “the Agile umbrella.” For an organisation to be successful in adopting Agile ways of working, it requires the right technique/method to be used to address the problem or need”. 


Source : Christopher Webb – LAST Conference 2016 Agile Landscape –https://www.slideshare.net/ChrisWebb6/agiledeloitte-agile-landscape-v02

Processes and Tools

There are a couple of Agile project management tools for task management, issue tracking, bug fixing, planning, operating, organizing etc. where you can customize your company specific processes like Workflows, Events, Notifications, etc. to conduct and support your activities within the practice. The top dog under the Agile project management tools is from the house Atlassian, Jira and Confluence. Doing “Agile” on this level is very dynamic and has the highest visibility.

Summary and Outlook

Having looked at the layers of the onion, the question remains why Agile is so important in today’s world. Agile arose from the need to close the gap between business needs and technology delivery. This is mainly affected by hierarchies, lack of authority and “outdated” software development models such as the waterfall model, which is no longer recommended in the digital era. Responding to change must be implemented to ensure success and business value. This depends on your companies’ organizational structure, corporate culture, and agile maturity. We can help you by starting from scratch or picking up one of the agile frameworks or methods to implement (Practice, Tools) and live (Mindset, Values) it. With our experience and proven approach (re:think Agile Maturity Index©) we can start the Agile journey hand in hand. In the big business world, there is not an Agile blueprint which you can “copy and paste” to become Agile.

“Implementing Agility takes time and costs resources. Agile is not a miracle and not a universal answer from the house “Marvel”.”

by Riza Sahin, Senior Manager at re:think Innovations