What is Agile Methodology?

Over the past few years Agile has become a buzzword in not only the software development industry but across a number of industry sectors.   In fact, it seems one can think of any business process and attach the word agile to it and and it is totally plausible i.e.  Agile Innovation

If you browse Job titles on LinkedIn, Xing or any other professional social media platform you bound to come across Agile Business Transformation CoachAgile Project Manager, Agile Marketing Executive or even Agile Sales Consultant.

This gives the illusion that if ain’t Agile you ain’t nothing! Unfortunately this also means that the true meaning and intention of the Agile Movement becomes increasingly obscured!

Another huge misconception is that the Agile Methodology originated from the Software Development Community, and the key tenets of Agile are derived from the Agile Manifesto. Although the fundamental objectives of agile software development are derived from the agile manifesto,  the ideals and concepts that agile aspires to have far deeper business basis.

What is Agile ?

The new term Agile is derived from a number of lean manufacturing concepts and principles.  Lean Manufacturing focuses on eliminating waste and streamlining processes for cost effectiveness.  The primary focus of lean is to identify and eliminate waste, whether it be excessive labour costs, surplus stock inventory, excess materials or inefficient business processes.

Lean Manufacturing was popularised in the book  The Toyota Way: 14 Management Principles from the World’s Greatest Manufacturer, the first book for a general audience that explains the management principles and business philosophy behind Toyota’s worldwide reputation for quality and reliability.

Agile & Lean methodologies are based on identifying and eliminating waste while at the same time leveraging synergies  and doing more of the practices that have a bigger return on investment.

In his book,  Business Agility: Sustainable Prosperity in a Relentlessly Competitive World , Michael Hugos how to apply the concepts of Agile and Lean  to  businesses enabling them to become more responsive to their customer needs and wants in order to produce goods and services quicker for their customers resulting in higher prices and reduced costs.

Business Agility
Sustainable Prosperity in a Relentlessly Competitive World

The relentless pursuit of industrial efficiency no longer yields the profits it once did because it requires a level of business predictability that no longer exists. Instead, the Internet and global video and telecom systems provide a massive and continuous flow of data that causes the whole world to behave like a giant stock market, with all the volatility and uncertainty that goes along with such markets.

Michael H. Hugos

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 At its core, Agile is a time boxed, iterative approach to software delivery that builds Product incrementally from the start of the project, instead of trying to deliver it all at once near the end. It works by breaking projects down into little bits of user functionality called user stories, prioritising them, and then continuously delivering them in short two week cycles called iterations.

In his book, Inspired : How to create tech products customers love , discusses how today’s most successful tech companies-Amazon, Google, Facebook, Netflix, Tesla-design, develop, and deploy the products that have earned the love of literally billions of people around the world? Perhaps surprisingly, they do it very differently than the vast majority of tech companies.

Inspired
How to Create Tech Products Customers Love

How do today’s most successful tech companies-Amazon, Google, Facebook, Netflix, Tesla-design, develop, and deploy the products that have earned the love of literally billions of people around the world?

Marty Cagan

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In INSPIRED, technology product management thought leader Marty Cagan provides readers with a master class in how to structure and staff a vibrant and successful product organisation, and how to discover and deliver technology products that your customers will love-and that will work for your business. With sections on assembling the right people and skill-sets, discovering the right product, embracing an effective yet lightweight process, and creating a strong product culture, readers can take the information they learn and immediately leverage it within their own organisations-dramatically improving their own product efforts. Whether you’re an early stage startup working to get to product/market fit, or a growth-stage company working to scale your product organisation, or a large, long-established company trying to regain your ability to consistently deliver new value for your customers, INSPIRED will take you and your product organisation to a new level of customer engagement, consistent innovation, and business success. 

The Agile methodology and processes feature quite highly in how they are used in the Product Development process. The casual reader will note that these processes are applied to just certain elements of a project, and they are not necessarily processes that the company implement as whole and attempts to work with forever more.

At it’s core Agile is a basic task management system, in that it is similar to breaking complex processes into smaller pieces, accepting that you may not have all the desired or required information to complete the tasks.  You also try to prioritise and estimate the size of the tasks, in order to try and estimate how many tasks you will be able to complete in a predefined time-frame.

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