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"… the Agile movement in software is part of a larger movement towards more humane and dynamic workplaces in the 21st century"
- Rowan Bunning (Australian Agile Coach)
The contemporary software economy has become completely digital and highly dynamic. It wants techies to be flexible, updated, and most importantly agile. Well, yes, agility is the new black for the tech landscape and software organizations are embracing novel development tools, methodologies, and approaches which allows them to deliver intuitive products that too very quickly.
Agile-driven set-up has emerged due to various limitations and loopholes in the traditional development techniques such as the waterfall methodology. Lack of flexibility, high amount of risk involved, and avoiding creating a prototype can be quoted as the three key cons of this method.
But developers saw a ray of hope in the dark and tried to invent something which can let them build better software solutions by helping each other mutually and collaborating continuously. This mindset has given birth to the concept of going agile and focus on people over processes.
Moreover, this method gives first priority to building interactive and functional mock-ups which can be iterated in accordance with the users' feedback which in turn would refine the end product.
Also, you can weigh up the quality of the product, the team's productivity, and progress of the development by tracking a few important agile metrics which could help you in managing the project seamlessly.
In order to embrace agile with all your heart and soul you need to first understand how can you build an agile culture? Adopting and building a sustainable agile culture could be one of the trickiest tasks. In addition, it would require you to modify the current processes and get used to the new ones.
It's true that an agile culture can't be built overnight, but strategic planning and long-term vision could be your two best companions in this transition. Moreover, paying attention to building a trustworthy and transparent environment should be your first step towards embracing agile.
But implementing complete transparency and cultivating a culture which is driven by values and behaviors is not an easy task. This can be done only when you teach your agile team to trust each other and work in harmony. Also, they need to learn the art of dealing with each and every task with sheer sincerity and honesty.
You might be thinking why are we emphasizing on trust and candour so much? Here, it should be all about tools and techniques. Yes, this is the generic perception regarding any software development methodology.
But agile is not one of those. Let's explore the four key reasons that will explain why these two qualities are considered as the two core pillars of a sustainable agile culture.
1. Giving Priority To People and Communication Over Methods and Tools
If you want to achieve your goals, then you have to make sure that the team which is working on the project is productive and efficient. Also, paying attention to each and every individual member and the entire team collaboration is important.
The entire team must be well-coordinated where each member is aware of his/her responsibility.
Moreover, they should know what they have to deliver and feel accountable for the same. It's vital because agile treat every individual as an asset and not a mere tool to get the work done.
Constant interactions and honest conversations could be the two ways to facilitate seamless collaboration among the team. Also, the members can give honest feedback to their colleagues with which the latter can refine the outcomes and try to integrate some innovative ideas to do it more efficiently.
2. Firm Belief In Comprehensive Documentation But More Focus On Building Functional Products Which Can Be Called MVPs (Minimum Viable Products)
The agile approach provides developers with the freedom to do experiments and try unique ways of solving complex issues. This liberty only gives them the courage to try harder and perform even better.
The professionals don't feel the fear from getting failed which can stop them from experimenting and using their creative brains. With seamless trust and transparency across the team would enable them to present their ideas and innovations.
In the absence of faith the members would never come out of their cocoons and try to learn new things which can let them build great products. Also, paying attention to creating interactive mock-ups or MVPs allows them to be in the driving seat of the development
Building prototypes can validate their assumptions and give them an idea of the feasibility of the experiments which they are trying to do. This helps them in visualizing the direction of the end product and plan their actions accordingly.
3. Mutual Bond With Stakeholders and End Users Which Eliminates The Need Of Last Minute Negotiations
A development project might have varied kind of stakeholders and customers. Ultimately, you have to consider their specific requirements and demands as well. But because of lack of continuous interaction between the agile team and the users the end product can never fulfill those requirements or fix the pain points highlighted by them.
So, better maintain a cordial relationship with your stakeholders as well as the end users. The bond should be mutual and both the parties must have the liberty to raise their opinion. No one should feel forced at any given point and the entire process must be looked as an iterative journey. This collaboration will help you to create intuitive solutions that can be the perfect fit to your targeted audiences.
4. Mastering The Art Of Adaption and Avoiding Getting Stuck To Rigid Plans
Changes are something that is inevitable and it's not in your hands to avoid them. This is why the agile method compels the team to learn how to adjust to new situations. Also, they understand the importance of having a precise plan, but still keep their doors open to customizing it in order to fit the changing requirements or scenarios.
A culture which is driven by trust and transparency could be the best set-up to prepare your team for being flexible. They will learn how to deal with sudden changes and tailor the plan without hampering the deliverables.
We aren't saying that an agile team can't perform or accomplish projects successfully without embracing the traits of trust and candour. But yes, these qualities can help them to perform efficiently as a team and reach their full potential. So, it's not a good idea to think agile only as a development methodology, but consider it as a culture and a mindset which you need to be familiar with and train yourselves accordingly.