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What is Agile?

What is Agile?

Satisha Venkataramaiah
3rd Feb, 2020

What is Agile?


There are different meanings for Agile in the industry based on the understanding that people may have. It varies from mindset, methodology, process, and so on. Let us have a look at what the dictionary says about Agile. It means "Ability to move quickly and easily." It also means nimble. 


Quickly but not easily

What are the things that one may want to do quickly, but not easy?

  • Build a business or a product
  • Losing bodyweight

Quickly but not easily

Let us take an example of losing bodyweight. Everyone wants to stay fit. What if a person is overweight, losing weight becomes difficult and tedious too. Losing weight is not an easy thing to do. The amount of dedication and perseverance for that process is enormous. Many of them are unable to achieve weight loss because they are unable to sustain their commitment towards their goal, which is losing weight. 


Weight loss as a goal has not only a positive impact on the person but also their friends, family, colleagues, and the whole system. To achieve the goal, one needs to change their habits and sustain it. Habits include, 

  • Sleeping well
  • Exercising daily
  • Eating healthy
  • etc.

Similarly, to build a sustainable business, one needs to create sustainable habits. 


What does Agile mean for business?

It is the ability to evolve your products quickly and continuously to fulfill customer needs. Just like losing weight, we want to build products quickly, but it is not easy. Just like sustainable habits in weight loss, we need things like

  • Discipline in the way we work
  • We need to engage customers regularly

On top of that, they need to reflect on the way they build products periodically. It includes a process within which teams operate, the structure of the team, and policies that govern the organization. These needs improvements frequently. 


The Vehicle Metaphor

Agile is a vehicle that takes you from one place to another. Let us say you have a destination in mind, and you want to move there from where you are. The vehicle will help you move from where you are to where you want to be. 


The Vehicle Metaphor

There are different types of vehicles based on roadways, airways, and waterways. Some of the examples of a vehicle are car, bus, train, two-wheelers, ship, boat, cruiser, waterbike, helicopter, plane, etc. A car will serve the purpose if you are driving inside a city, but if you want to travel to a mountainous area where there are no roads, a 4X4 is needed. 

Similarly, if you're going to travel across continents, you need either a ship or an airplane. The terrain or the surface that you are traveling on will help you decide the vehicle that suits your purpose. 


Similarly, based on the complexity of the work one is doing, they need different ways and means to achieve Agility. There are various ways to reach Agility, some of them are

  • Scrum
  • Extreme Programming Practices (XP)
  • Lean
  • Kanban
  • etc

We might have to choose any of these based on the type of work we do. 


Agile is not a mindset, methodology, process, or framework. Its a philosophy. It's a guiding principle towards the expected behavior. 

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