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What is Agile?

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Product Owner
1
What is Agile?
PREVIEW6m 17s
2
Principles of Agile
PREVIEW6m 36s

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Scrum Product Owner
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What is Agile?
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DifficultyBeginner
Duration20m
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Description

Module 1 – Introduction to Agile & Scrum  

This Module will look at the basics of what Agile and Scrum are, including the Agile principles and values, and the Scrum principles and Values. This module is supported by videos and a PDF, and is followed by a quiz to help support your understanding.  

  • Agile 
  • The Agile Manifesto 
  • Scrum  
  • The Scrum Guide  

Transcript

Hi everyone. In this video, I want to ask and answer the most fundamental question about Agile: What is it? Before jumping into the theory, we thought it would be fun to ask some people in the office and see if they could give us a good answer.  

"When I think of the word agile I think of something that is flexible, quick, connected."

"You need to know how to be flexible, be able to change to different situations, be adaptable."

"It's a quick way of doing things. It's a completely different philosophy of how to approach things as well and it's an effective way of managing projects."

If you answered the question yourself, would any of their answers be similar to yours? Well, a lot of people think that Agile is a methodology or a way of working. In some ways this is true. Agile is about working in a new way and Agile thinking has also been at the heart of new working methodologies like Scrum or AgileSHIFT. The truth of Agile though, is that first and foremost, it's a mindset. Or if you prefer, an attitude. It's based on four core values found in the Agile manifesto. You should search for it and give it a quick read when you have a moment.

No matter who you are, you probably work in an environment with specific ways of working and you will use specific tools every day. Of course, the processes you follow will depend on what works for you and your team. The same is true for the tools you use. For instance, maybe you work in a video production team. There are many video editing tools available and all of them have different strengths and weaknesses. The important thing is that you don't get caught up in these at the expense of the people in your team and the way they interact. It's the people in your team that will get the work done.

In the past, getting every single thing written down in extremely detailed documents was just the norm. Today, many organizations still work this way. While comprehensive documentation can be useful, it's also time-consuming to create and maintain. This value is all about getting things done first and letting our work speak for itself. You need to value creating product and delivering services over exhaustive and comprehensive documentation of those products and services. Again, while this value calls it software specifically, this is just because of the origins of the manifesto. You can simply replace software with a product or service and this value becomes applicable in any industry.

This value really speaks to a certain attitude organizations have developed about their customers. That we can't trust each other and that we need to protect our own interests with strong contracts. This creates a negative space that can cause a lot of friction, especially when things don't go according to plan. Instead, you need to collaborate with your customers from the earliest possible point. Understand what they need and work with them closely throughout the delivery process. This way, you'll build stronger, healthier relationships with your customers and get their buy-in on every element of the service or product you're delivering.

If you've ever worked to a detailed plan that stretches over months or even years, you will know that changes are inevitable. Having a general plan of action with a deliverable in mind is a great idea. But, planning on a more granular basis either daily, weekly or biweekly really allows you to respond to changes quickly and effectively. Now that we've talked about the Agile values in some detail, we asked one of our resident Agile experts if they have anything they can add to help us answer our question, what is Agile?

"How would I describe business agility and what does it mean to an organization? The best metaphor that I can think of for business agility is one that compares a bull in a Spanish bullfighting ring to a cheetah on an African plain. No one would argue with the sheer strength and brute force of the bull. But dexterity isn't necessarily its strongest suit. The cheetah, on the other hand, is nimble, has speed and exceptionally keen eyesight which means that it is able to scan horizons and change direction rapidly to catch its prey. This is very much the situation in today's business environment, where things change extremely rapidly and market conditions are infinitely more complex than they were several decades ago. Agility is very much the business's ability to interpret what it's environment is saying and to respond in ways that give it a competitive advantage. In today's business context, leadership companies who previously had the monopoly, are finding that they are being disrupted by much smaller organizations across sectors which are coming to the market with innovative business models and far superior digital capability. Examples of this are your Airbnb, Uber, which are now worth hundreds of millions of pounds. Therefore, organizations today that don't embrace Agile run the very real risk of being disrupted by organizations that do."

 So that's it for this video. The key thing to remember is that Agile is a mindset based on four core values. To work in an agile way, the only thing you really need to do is embrace these values and let them guide you and your team in your day-to-day work.

About the Author

Students181
Courses15
Learning paths2

Paul Williams is a Senior Learning Consultant for QA, based in Manchester, UK. He is a member of the Agile, Lean & DevOps Trainer Team.