Agile is not a synonym of Fast
When people are introduced to Agile, they tend to believe that doing things agile means doing things “quickly and easily.”
It’s easy to see how this has led to a few misconceptions about the agile ways of working, either in development, designing or in an entirely different role (yes! You can be agile outside the software development world :D ).
Let’s take a look at a few common agile myths and misconceptions and how they they are untrue.
“Agile is only for software development.”
“Agile” (with a Capital A) refers to a class of development frameworks (e.g., SCRUM, Kanban, Extreme Programming etc.) that focus on end-user requirements that add value to their processes, short iteration of development, testing and deployment.
But these frameworks do not only apply to software development! They can be applied to processes and even day to day life — yes, life!
Before you can actually work in an agile manner and/or using Agile practices, you’re required to have a new mindset. You need to focus on the outcome, experiment, iterate and learn.
“Agile means quick.”
People say speed, when they should be saying “speed to value,” meaning delivery of real business value in a shorter period of time.
Agile practices focus on clarity of outcomes — know what you want, where you want to get to — to avoid time, energy and resource wasted on building out materials or experiences that fail to achieve real user needs.
Short cycles and experimentation allow end users to experience benefits sooner, but not necessarily “faster.” This should also give the end user the possibility of providing feedback for the ones working on building a solution, developing a software or providing a service.
“There is no commitment to deadlines or delivery dates in agile.”
Agile teams do work on schedules — whether they are formal two-week sprints or less formal short cycles that guide the delivery of whatever materials or experiences are needed.
Agile is a collaborative process that involves discussion and negotiation between those who are building a product or an experience and the stakeholders who need it to be built.
Teams make their own commitments instead of working to externally imposed deadlines. The team then iterates and delivers a Minimum Viable (or Lovable) Product (MVP) over a specific period of time, that is agreed between the team and the stakeholders, and continuously updated / shared, iteration after iteration.
“Agile means you can change and add requirements whenever you want.”
People often assume that, with agile, requirements can be changed at any time, or without discussing with the team.
In fact, you should not do that. You have to let the team work on the planning they made.
You should not change requirements during an iteration without working with the team to understand the impact of the decision and to re-prioritize the work.
“Agile means do whatever it takes to deliver 24 x 7 x 365.”
A successful agile team focuses on working smarter — not longer. The team develops a sustainable pace for work that avoids burnout.
They do this by scoping the size of their projects well (and this takes practice, failing and learning) and by setting expectations about what can be accomplished — clear, open, transparent dialogues always!
Agile people and teams also reflect on the results of their iterations. They invest time into looking back to the previous cycle and thinking about what went well and is worth continuing; what did not go so well and needs improvement and actual ways (actions!) to improve the product and their way of working. And then, follow a cycle of experimenting -> observing -> collecting feedback -> adjusting, relentlessly.
The never ending question should be: “how do I/we get better?”
“Agile is just about using the right agile tools and processes”
Many people think that if they adopt the use of specific tools or set up processes like daily meetings then they are being agile.
That’s absolutely not true. Each one of the Agile practices has a reason behind it. Has values to support it. And if you don’t understand and live these, then you cannot consider yourself agile (sorry!).
Another key element to being agile is understanding why the team is working on something. What’s the objective? Where is the team trying to get to?
Additionally, working effectively through an agile mindset and behavior shall unleash and drive the innovation that is so much pursued on this 4.0 Industrial Revolution we are living these days.
And a little secret: people — work force and consumers — will see and feel the value of focusing on the right work and being owners of the process, in a collaborative, co-created new way of working.
With all the above said…
Agile is really an efficient way of doing things.
An efficient way of doing things with the value for the end user in mind.
An efficient way of doing things with the value for the end user in mind, and with little waste, as well as focusing on what really matters, you end up making your customer happier, faster.
Want to become agile? Ask me how. ;)