Agile: Use This Flexible Management Style To Transform Your Team’s Productivity

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Agile is more than a management methodology. It’s a whole philosophy that promotes a radically different approach to the framework. In this sense, Agile is not about “management” at all, but about working without leaders, but with a team whose members are responsible to each other. That is, “horizontal” instead of “vertical.”

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A Brief History of Agile

The flexible approach began its existence somewhere in the first half of the 20th century. Around the 30s, physicist Walter Schuhart uses the iterative Plan-Do-Study-Act process, which he shares with his student, William Deming (we now know this approach to control the Deming Cycle). After World War II, Toyota (the same company that invented Lean, Kanban, and much more related to Agile) hires Deming to train their managers. In the following years, many companies develop their agile management techniques: Scrum, XP, FDD, etc. But no one talks about “agile” until 2001 when 17 developers practicing agile project management techniques get together and make up the Manifesto for Agile Software Development (Agile Manifesto). So the concept of “agile” arises, around which there is so much talk today.

Agile management methodology was invented to solve several problems of waterfall methodology. For example, too much emphasis on planning and the effect of delays in some teams on the work of others. For this, it was necessary to reconsider the view of the planned work completed and not to change any individual mechanics. Flexibility is the ability of an agile team to adapt to changing conditions and is achieved through being continually:

  • Iterative. Instead of going through a plan for a long, long time and then making the definitive version of the product even longer, the agile team tries to release a workable prototype as soon as possible and then test and finalize it over and over again. Iteration can negatively affect development time, but you almost immediately have a more or less working product.
  • Self-organization. In the team, everyone is equal. There are no leaders and managers, which means there are no hellish agreements. It saves resources, especially time.
  • The Interpenetration of knowledge. Any specialist on an agile team should have at least a basic understanding of related specialties. In addition to being cross-functional, constantly immersing yourself in new topics keeps your brain in good shape.

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Core Values of Agile Methodology

In the case of Agile, these are the values ​​described in the Agile Manifesto:

  • People and interactions are more important than processes and tools. If your team has principles, traditions, structures, tools, or conditions that interfere with the work, then you should get rid of them. People themselves must choose the way of organization, the set of processes, the tools used. In the end, all of this should help the work, not interfere.
  • A working product is more important than documentation. This does not mean “working in Agile — working without documents.” Agile teams also have documentation, but they don’t spend a lot of time and resources. The Agile development methodology isn’t anti-documentation in the least. Unzipped files of case studies, infographics, tables, and sitemaps are examples of possible Agile documentation papers.
  • Cooperation with the customer is more important than agreeing on the terms of the contract. Look a little further beyond the agreement and estimate. It makes no sense to spoil the relationship with the customer, albeit at the cost of timely payment. If you cannot agree on the work and break the communication, in the end, you will lose this client and, possibly, the next. Any contracts, documents, and agreements should go into the hands of your relationship with clients and not spoil them.
  • Being ready for change is more important than following the original plan. Even if there is a project plan, it will almost certainly need to be changed over time — this is the essence of Agile.

Final Words

Agile Methodology allows what the waterfall model does not allow — to create high-quality products and increase the team’s productivity without a detailed plan for all stages. All thanks to iteration, customer and employee feedback, and team self-organization.

Agile is a methodology and philosophy. To apply all this to project management, you need to collect your method from this constructor or choose an existing one.

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