To be, or not to be “Agile” – We have always been Agile Or it is something new?

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In this post, I am brainstorming and aligning my thoughts around the word “Agile” as an adjective. I feel this area is like an iceberg and I have only seen the tip, well we have to start somewhere. Let’s explore…

Agile is not that is unknown to us, let it be agile software development, agile leadership or an agile organization. if we look back, we have been agile ever since let it be less or more. Let me share my thoughts …

Almost two decades ago, I was unfamiliar with the word “Agile” itself, however, I was practicing this concept to a certain extent in software development. I used to combine different open source products and services to make a software solution and on this journey, if one option didn’t work, I tend to try out a different approach, of course, a common sense as using the same path might not yield the desired result.

In 2004, along with other friends, we started working on a website development project for a local exchange company. One interesting thing that I can recall is that we focused on building few features and showed it to the customer to get their feedback. This was happening once or twice per month, in an increment fashion. This approach helped to identify what the customer wanted and also built trust that we can actually deliver the project. This feedback loop was good to focus on what matters and what does not.

I think this was more sensible to do otherwise we could have overcommitted, lost trust, lost opportunity or also led to a challenge to better understand customer needs. BONUS, once we made the product live, we got another small project to keep moving …

Besides, from my other work experiences, during my code development era, 12 years ago. I did pair programming, developer testing and had direct interaction with the customer. Because it made sense to have a quick feedback loop. All this is known as agile practices.

Now on the flip side of the coin, something interesting that I’ve realized that the human race has always been working in an agile way. Take a quick glance at history? let it be traveling, communication, cultures, survival, food, construction and many other areas. We always wanted to improve on what we did at that specific time. We wanted to move or do things at a fast pace.

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Agility in our ways of living has been there. the one who didn’t adapt (agility) was left out from the race to survive. Now I see this word in explicit use in the past two decades “Agile Software Development, Leadership Agility, Organizational Agility, Agile HR, Agile Marketing and Agile XYZ”. Perhaps, the survival or providing the best service is connected with agility to understand/inspect the need/customer and serve/adapt accordingly. A continuous loop can make it effective and more fruitful.

These days, for me two topics are of great interest to explore, Leadership Agility and Organizational Agility. It addresses to fullfil the customer need however also how people/Leadership also need to adapt along with the business.

If you revisit the definition of word agile above,  how many keywords you can identify in your ways of working.

In a nutshell, I think we have been agile, less or more, it has been dependant on the needs of a situation, market and/or customer.

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