6 agile principles that apply to everything

Agile isn't just for software developers -- the methodology has applications and makes a positive impact anywhere it's applied in your business. Here are six agile principles you can use almost anywhere.

Though the principles of agile were originally developed for software, they apply to almost every other area of your organization. Collaboration, open communication, trust and independence, efficiency, and continuous delivery are the foundation of agile and they can make a lasting positive impact almost anywhere in your organization. At the recent Agile Alliance 2015 conference in Washington, D.C., Tim Ottinger, senior consultant, Industrial Logic, lays out six agile principles you can use just about anywhere.

Sometimes work doesn't look like work

A common misconception about agile is that the methodology ignores planning and process -- and that couldn't be further from the truth. What's important to grasp is that often, the planning and process happens simultaneously with work being accomplished.

"The work is in the thinking, not the typing. Brainstorming, talking, even goofing around with team members -- that's all part of it. Sometimes the best ideas and solutions come not from constant, head-down coding but from letting go. It's not 'fingers on keyboards' that count, it's 'heads in the game,'" Ottinger says.

Deliver value early and often

Agile is about delivering value to stakeholders early and often using a simple progression of steps: Plan, develop, complete, test and release. Then, repeat. The key is to do so within a small amount of time -- a sprint -- and then to make incremental adjustments based on stakeholder feedback.

"The time constraints within agile reduces the likelihood of accidents, problems, bugs and misdirection. It limits our exposure. As a product team, we don't know what people are actually going to like in our product, or what they're going to use, because these people are crazy and they change their minds all the time. So, you have to get stuff in front of people as early and often as possible so they can say, 'yes,' 'no,' or 'almost.' You want to disappoint them repeatedly in a controlled fashion over a number of months, so that eventually you can make them extraordinarily happy," Ottinger says.

Break it down (or, embrace chaos)

If your teams are overwhelmed by the sheer size and scope of upcoming projects, start chopping. Slice and dice the work into chunks that can be accomplished within the confines of a sprint and keep slicing and dicing until the work is manageable and distributed based on each teams' strengths. This is where the heavy-duty up-front planning comes in; you must make sure that the business imperatives are clearly defined and determined.

"Sometimes you'll get a directive like, 'Add e-commerce to this.' Well, how big is that? What do you want it to do? What should it look like? How is it used? Keep asking those questions, and then keep breaking the answers down into more minute pieces. This is the power of chaos. It won't look like anything's happening -- see #1 -- and at first it'll look like there's more to do because there are so many pieces, but cross-functional teams have all the competencies needed to get the work accomplished," according to Ottinger.

Focus on capacity, not speed

Another common misconception about agile is that the methodology can increase a product team's speed. While that's true in one sense, it's not always the case; instead, what usually happens is that a team increases its capacity and its ability to produce viable products, which results in increased speed.

Capacity or, velocity, says Ottinger, is therefore a consequence, not a choice. Capacity shows how much can get done in a certain period without teams being unduly stressed. Once that's figured out, businesses and teams determine how many resources are needed within that timeframe, or the timeframe can be adjusted to accommodate limited time and resources.

"The old school of thought was that to increase speed you must increase effort. Cut corners, take chances. But you often ended up with mistakes and a shoddy product. To increase capacity we use Agile to develop skills, increase knowledge, improve tools, share work efficiently, reduce inefficiencies and reduce waste -- and that helps us move faster," Ottinger says.

The dreadful constancy

How do you answer the inevitable question, "When will the project be done?" The answer is, “never.” It's what's referred to as the dreadful constancy; especially in the software world, “done” is a fluid concept as updates, patches, bug fixes and feature changes, additions and subtractions are an ongoing effort. "When the last user deletes the last copy of the software off of the last machine that's been running it -- that's when the software will be done. There's no such thing as done, there's only improvement. Otherwise, you're looking at obsolescence," Ottinger says.

Agile methods are empirical

"In doing the work, we learn about doing the work. We all do different work, and there's no real “right way” to make products, or to make products work perfectly. You have to do your own agile. You have to find your own way, what works for your company and your projects and your teams. But what you'll find, what agile will prove to you, is that prevention is better than correction. That constant iteration is better than getting all the way to the end and realizing you've failed," Ottinger says.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Show Comments

Latest Videos

Launch marketing council Episode 5: Retailer and supplier

In our fifth and final episode, we delve into the relationship between retailer and supplier and how it drives and influences launch marketing strategies and success. To do that, we’re joined by Campbell Davies, group general manager of Associated Retailers Limited, and Kristin Viccars, marketing director A/NZ, Apex Tool Group. Also featured are Five by Five Global managing director, Matt Lawton, and CMO’s Nadia Cameron.

More Videos

Hi,When online retailers establish their multi channel strategy and they are using or will to use live chatbot to support their customers...

Alice Labs Pte. Ltd.

CMO's top 8 martech stories for the week - 6 May 2021

Read more

Thanks for nice information regarding Account-based Marketing. PRO IT MELBOURNE is best SEO Agency in Melbourne have a team of profession...

PRO IT MELBOURNE

Cultivating engaging content in Account-based Marketing (ABM)

Read more

The best part: optimizing your site for SEO enables you to generate high traffic, and hence free B2B lead generation. This is done throug...

Sergiu Alexei

The top 6 content challenges facing B2B firms

Read more

Nowadays, when everything is being done online, it is good to know that someone is trying to make an improvement. As a company, you are o...

Marcus

10 lessons Telstra has learnt through its T22 transformation

Read more

Check out tiny twig for comfy and soft organic baby clothes.

Morgan mendoza

Binge and The Iconic launch Inactivewear clothing line

Read more

Blog Posts

Getting privacy right in a first-party data world

With continued advances in marketing technology, data privacy continues to play catchup in terms of regulation, safety and use. The laws that do exist are open to interpretation and potential misuse and that has led to consumer mistrust and increasing calls for a stronger regulatory framework to protect personal information.

Furqan Wasif

Head of biddable media, Tug

​Beyond greenwashing: Why brands need to get their house in order first

Environmental, Social and (Corporate) Governance is a hot topic for brands right now. But before you start thinking about doing good, Craig Flanders says you best sort out the basics.

Craig Flanders

CEO, Spinach

​The value of collaboration: how to keep it together

Through the ages, from the fields to the factories to the office towers and now to our kitchen tables, collaboration has played a pivotal role in how we live and work. Together. We find partners, live as families, socialise in groups and work as teams. Ultimately, we rely on these collaborative structures to survive and thrive.

Rich Curtis

CEO, FutureBrand A/NZ

Sign in