What is it?
The Agile Manifesto changed the trajectory of software development from the static, monolithic waterfall processes in wide use in 2001, to a dynamic, customer centric, adaptable, and speedy approach that is considered mainstream today.
Agile consists of a number of practices — stories, daily stand up meetings, short iterations, refactoring — and a mindset — collaboration, experimentation, empowerment, customer centricity. The first can be thought of as “doing agile” and the latter “being agile.” Organizations often find “being agile” more difficult than “doing agile.”
How do you get adaptability and speed with agile? First, agile encourages continuous delivery of value — iteration by iteration and release by release — rather than a single large value release at the end of a project. Automation, including comprehensive automated testing, enables teams to deliver value today and maintain the high quality product that makes the last iteration as fast as the first. You also get adaptability and speed by doing less. By measuring value continuously, agile teams tend to eliminate marginal features, which studies have shown proliferate using traditional methods.
While agile is rooted in software development, the mindset and practices have migrated into general and project management as organizations try to find ways to adapt to the uncertainty and rapid changes in today’s environment.