Every day, software development teams around the world work with Agile. That’s usually an attempt to improve product quality and delivery speed in order to satisfy client needs. The thing is, good results don’t necessarily stem from blindly sticking to Agile best practices. The good news is that we can practice Agility to identify and fix any mistakes we’re making. That’s why today, we’re going to discuss when we should aim for Agility over Agile, what the difference is and what to expect from this switch.
What is Agile
A common mistake people make is thinking 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 functions are more important than its documentation
- Client collaboration takes priority over contract negotiations
- Adaptability to changes outweighs sticking to a plan
These four pillars are the reason Agile doesn’t just apply to software development but to various 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 main issue with Agile is that people often miss the forest for the trees. Many companies get to a point where they stick to the Agile best practices so vehemently that they discount the main Agile beliefs. Fast delivery, adaptability to changes and client satisfaction are reduced to an afterthought. At some point, that’ll surely lead to imbalances.
Imagine team A is trying to achieve faster delivery through SCRUM methodology and produce a feature. Another development team, B, is supposed to produce another feature, ready to launch before team A’s. If team B doesn’t stick to team A’s methodology and doesn’t produce their feature faster than them, it doesn’t matter how fast team A is. Therefore, if we just stick to practices (wrapped in the form of methodologies), rather than the Agile mindset, Agile will always fail at some point. This is why, in order to be fully adaptable to changes and achieve better results, we should reach business Agility.
What is Agility
By this point, you would probably think that Agility is the very opposite of Agile. However, the truth is Agility aims to adapt the Agile mindset to the whole organisation. Agility means businesses that have the ability to respond to change. The whole idea is that every industry can’t be fast enough to meet its customers’ 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. Both Agile and Agility are ways of adapting to change, just at different organisational levels, so 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 just locally. This is the main difference between being Agile and using Agility. Being Agile and using its practices can only achieve results in one part of the chain, whereas using Agility (as an Agile mindset on the company 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 thinking in general terms. As we mentioned earlier, most Agile failures happen due to the methodology being used on a local level. Many companies start off that way because it’s the only possible solution for early-stage teamwork. However, they never realize that they need to implement it on a wider scale, which leads to failure. That’s key for Agility – but, in and of itself, still not enough. That’s why I will give you some ideas of common practices to employ globally in order to achieve agility.
Every bespoke software development company has its own culture to help it grow. A company’s culture is its vision. Where it wants to be and how it intends to get there. Ways to develop a culture can include all-hands meetings where all teams discuss adopting an Agile mindset, not just its practices. In addition, one of the best ways that you can achieve Agility is through sessions about communication and harmony within 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 adapt to changes faster. Many companies forget this, and then every new change makes them start from the beginning. Make evolution, not revolution. This way, step by step, you will be closer to achieving Agility.
To sum up, we shouldn’t be wondering whether to aim for Agile or for Agility. They should coexist. We should be trying to reach a collective Agile mindset in our organisation in order to achieve Agility.