What Is Agile?

What’s all the buzz about Agile? We hear the word “Agile” in a variety of places these days – Agile workplaces, Agile labs, Agile teams, Agile leadership, and more.  There are many agile frameworks and they all revere these statements of value:

  • We value individuals and interactions over processes and tools.
  • We value working software [or any product] over comprehensive documentation.
  • We value customer collaboration over contract negotiation.
  • We value responding to change over following a plan.

That is, while there is value in the items on the right, we value the items on the left more. (www.agilemanifesto.org)

Lofty goals — and they work!

While Scrum isn’t a term heard as often, it is simply one of the most popular Agile frameworks.

Scrum, in a nutshell, is a very light framework for delivering real products early, often and consistently. The products can be anything: new processes, software, physical products, or running an operation (like a business).  It’s a “thing” that teams within corporations “do” — a new and better way of working.  And it’s a great environment for helping teams move toward high performance, for real. Scrum actually calls teams forth into high performance and it calls the organization around teams to get aligned around the most important, highest business value items to create — one after the other.  And those items get created within a short period of time and with high quality.  It’s a way of aligning expectations with outcomes.  In short, it helps teams deliver to a delighted customer. Every time.

So, how does it work?  View these short videos to find out:

The Scrum Framework in 10 minutes – what it is, how it works

The Wedding Cake – how we approach agile projects differently so teams can build real products in 4 weeks or less

The High Performance Tree – what agile is really all about…activating teams on their deliberate and joyful pursuit of high performance (so they become free to create the astonishingly good products that are the fruits of that pursuit)

What Working Agile Feels Like – what people who have tasted the agile way of working say about it

For a text version with a pretty graphic you can print, see the Scrum Alliances’ description of the mechanics of Scrum. And, don’t let the software development angle throw you — agile is good for everything, it’s just that it started in software first.

To get the full flavor of why this way of working is different and powerful, read this short article on the essence of Scrum.


Portions of this text  were written by Pam Nintrup based on a conversation with Lyssa Adkins