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Actively Gain Improvements Learning Everyday with AGILE

24 February 2014

The fundamentals of Agile have been described many times, and plenty of writers and bloggers are better at explaining them than I am.

The number of people who attempt to adhere to the values and principles of Agile has grown into millions. The majority of software developers around the world practice at least some of the "core Agile practices."

Surveys confirm that more people are recognizing that Agile development is beneficial to business, with an 11 percent increase over the last two years in the number of people who say Agile helps organizations complete projects faster.

In the blog post, Jeff Sutherland, the co-creator of Scrum, writes that the definition of agility remains one of Agile's key problems. "Agility by its very nature is best expressed in a series of values and principles. Anything too prescriptive would defeat the purpose of being Agile in the first place. That's the genius of the Agile Manifesto."

One of the main reasons the Agile Manifesto was crafted was to address the need to respond to change. Features that were valuable yesterday may be useless tomorrow. Agilists try to cope with this challenge by Actively nurturing short feedback and delivery cycles, thus having frequent product releases and delivering new and updated features to stakeholders as soon as the need is detected, optimizing their business value.

Even though Agile suggests a people-over-process paradigm, this doesn't mean that processes are unimportant. They are repeatedly evaluated and tuned through regular reflection or retrospectives, to Gain Improvements.

For improving our organizations, we need to become more Agile. Our agility is measured by metrics that reflect business value. The result is a progressive movement from one stage of agility to the next, optimizing return on investment.

However, adopting Scrum, becoming more Agile, and improving software development, requires training and coaching.

"I hear and I forget; I see and I remember; I do and I understand." This famous saying describes an important truth in Agile: Learning Everyday through experience, from our own mistakes and successes.

The spreading of knowledge in Agile teams isn't just limited to the technical knowledge of the team. It can allow information to flow between a more senior team member to a new one about other things that transcend the project -- coding style, company culture, expectations, and so on. It can also allow someone who is more familiar with a technology or tool to share knowledge in that technology or tool in the real world.

In his blog post, Jeff Sutherland writes: "Scrum is a way of putting Agile values and principals into practice. It's the most popular way and the best way I've come up with. In fact, the values are based primarily on an agreement of what Scrum and XP had in common with help from thought leaders and authors of books on software technologies. But maybe a succinct definition of Agile could help communicate its value more clearly to the rest of the world."

Jeff Sutherland had a great idea to launch a friendly competition: #Idefineagile to define #agile in a Twitter-bound world. More than a hundred people took part in the contest. Sutherland wrote, "Those brave souls tried to come up with a definition of Agile at tweet length, 100 characters or less. The entries really reflected Agile values. The recurring ideas were words like continuous learning, trust, respect, transparency, fun, embracing change, etc."

Sutherland favorited tweets using AGILE as an acronym. He explained that he liked the technique because when he was at West Point he used a similar definition "as a tool in the midst of constant demands for extreme performance, along with yelling and screaming when you never measured up. Every morning at breakfast, as 3,000 cadets bowed their heads in moment of silence, I asked only one thing. 'May I do better today than I did yesterday.' That mantra helped make my Corps of Cadets company the best on the parade field and eventually produced Scrum as we know it today."

Among all the great entries, he thought that my AGILE definition slightly edged out the rest. Here is my entry:

A: Actively
G: Gain
I: Improvements
L: Learning
E: Everyday

I'm very happy and honored to be the winner of the #Idefineagile competition. Thanks to Jeff Sutherland for selecting my proposal and to all Agilists retweeting or favoriting my #Idefineagile acronym. I have won a three-month subscription to ScrumLab, and now I have another opportunity to Actively Gain Improvements Learning Everyday. 

Opinions represent those of the author and not of Scrum Alliance. The sharing of member-contributed content on this site does not imply endorsement of specific Scrum methods or practices beyond those taught by Scrum Alliance Certified Trainers and Coaches.

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