Every day most software development teams are working with ‘Agile’. This is usually because the team wants to improve the quality of product and speed of delivery, which will surely satisfy the customer needs. However, this does not mean that good results will necessarily come if we just stick to the Agile best practices. The good news is we can aim for Agility to fix and understand where we are making mistakes with using Agile. That’s why today we are going to talk about when we should aim for Agility over Agile, what are the differences and what to expect from this change.
What is Agile
A common mistake is that people think that Agile is a software development methodology that only suits individual teams. Agile is a mindset based on four values, which are:
- Every individual is much more important than every process or tool
- The software and its work are more important than its documentation
- Collaboration with the client must be over contract negotiations
- Adaptability to the changes has a higher priority than sticking to a plan
- Twelve principles
- An unlimited number of practices
These values, principles, and practices are the reason why Agile doesn’t just apply to software development but its practices find use cases in different business contexts. Also, Agile practices can be used for all members of an organisation, not only single teams.
Why Agile doesn’t necessarily work
As a member of a bespoke software development company, I’ve never experienced the typical problem that Agile can provoke. The problem with Agile is that it often leads to sticking just to its practices, not to the mindset itself. Many companies and organisations, however, stick just to the Agile best practices, which leads to the moment when the three main Agile benefits (fast delivery, adaptability to the changes, and client satisfaction) are reduced to benefit from just one of them. At some point, this will surely lead to a moment of imbalance.
For instance, let’s have team A, which has to achieve faster delivery through SCRUM methodology and produce a feature. Another development team B should produce another feature, ready to launch before team A’s. If team B does not stick to the methodology from team A and does not produce their feature faster than team A, then it doesn’t matter how fast team A is. Therefore if we just stick to the practices (wrapped in the form of methodologies), not the Agile mindset, the Agile will always fail at some point. This is why to be fully adaptable to changes and to achieve better results as a company or organisation we should reach business Agility.
What is Agility
By this point, you would probably think that Agility is very opposite to Agile. However, the truth is that the goal of Agility is to adapt the Agile mindset to the whole organiсation. Agility means businesses that have the ability to respond to change. The whole idea is that every industry can’t be fast enough to the customer’s needs. This is why you should understand that there is always room for improvement in the way we develop or maintain a product on a company level. Because both Agile and Agility are ways of adapting to change, but at different organisational levels, they have much in common. Sometimes, both concepts are divided into Agile as an adjective and Agility as a noun to adaptable to business changes.
As we mentioned earlier Agile is commonly mistaken to be for single teams. It can be used globally, not only locally. This is the main difference between being Agile and using Agility. Being Agile and using its practices can achieve results in only one part of the chain, whereas using Agility (as an Agile mindset on the company or organization level) can affect the whole organisation. The biggest benefit is that an Agile mindset on a global basis will lead to Agility. This means that, when a part of an organisation has changed in a positive direction, other parts will also be affected in the right way.
Putting Agility into practice
Achieving agility is possible for organisations. The most important step to it is to start to think in general and use it locally. As we mentioned earlier, most Agile failures are due to using them on a local basis. Many companies start with doing Agile locally because this is probably the only possible solution for teamwork at the beginning. However, they never come to the conclusion that they have to adapt an organisational culture to be spread everywhere, which leads to Agile failure. This advice is founding for Agility, but not enough. That’s why I will give you common practices to do globally in order to achieve agility.
– Every bespoke software development company has its own culture to help it with growing up. The culture of a company is the vision, where the company wants to be and how to reach it. In order to develop a culture, there are some common solutions like organisation meetings with all teams on adopting an Agile mindset, not only its practices. In addition, one of the best ways that you can achieve Agility is with sessions about communication and harmony in the organisation. This way every member will feel like a part of something bigger.
– One of the best benefits of Agility is that it is a way to correspond to changes faster. Many companies forget this, and then every new change makes them start from the beginning. The right thing to make evolution, not revolution. This way, step by step, you will be closer to achieving Agility.
To sum up, we should not question if we should aim for Agile or aim for Agility. The right thing is to reach a collective Agile mindset in our organisation in order to achieve Agility.