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What is Agile? Quick Review and How it’s Composed.

Agile is composed of three parts:

First, it is a methodology used to manage teams doing software development. Second, it involves organizational change to accommodate the different work style and interaction style. Third, it is brand hat has name recognition and a whole industry of professionals behind it.


Part 1 The Methodology

Related to the first part, managing teams, Agile is composed of a self-directed work team with assigned roles & responsibilities that follows a pre-determined work cadence based on a time-period called a sprint. Self-directed work teams don’t have a boss or manager. The phrase “when the cat is away, the mice will play”, doesn’t apply because the team manages itself.

The problem with traditional self-directed teams is that they lacked a framework or methodology that guided them each step of the way. In addition, roles and responsibilities were left vague. With Agile, however, there is a procedure to follow: daily scrum meeting, sprint planning, sprint development, sprint review, sprint retrospective, backlog grooming, etc. There are specific tools and artifacts: user stories, story points, burn-down chart, Jira, etc. There is also a strict schedule to follow with meetings and work surrounding each sprint. There are also clear R&R: scrum master, product owner, scrum members, etc.


The Agile team runs as a project team with the project manager being the scrum master and the product owner being the business analyst. Like any other project team, Agile teams have requirements, budget, tasks, resources, deliverables, stakeholders, risk, procurement, etc.


Part 2 The Organizational Change

Traditional organizations organized by departments in a rigid hierarchy evolve into silo’s having different priorities and cultures. There is often tension between departments as well as a history between them. Agile teams, who are self-directed and often cross-functional, break those organizational barriers. Because of this flagrant break from the established past practices, leadership has to prepare the organization for these changes in practice. This means anticipating and addressing both spoken concerns and unspoken agendas. Failure to lead in this regard may result in less that helpful support and even resistance to the Agile team.


One of the great benefits of Agile is in making organizations work in a more flexible and dynamic manner. This free-up under-utilized potential and gives new opportunities to others. It helps identify team-players from detractors, performers from talkers, enthusiasts from self-promoters.


Part 3 The Brand

“Stickiness” is the key attribute for new ideas or methods to become accepted and adopted by the organization. One commonly used tool to achieve “stickiness” is via Branding. Branding moves a concept to a product, for which training and consulting services can be provided. Once the concept is branded, conferences can be held around this new product. New certifications are created and training schools pop-up. Books and articles fill the market, and meetups form. Titles are created, like Scrum Master or Product Owner, that are adopted by organizations. Success stories using this new “products” are talked about on the internet, and so on. The “stickiness” attribute of using Karate belts: white, yellow, green and black belt, helped make Lean-Six Sigma a permanent fixture in companies. Likewise, the Scrum Alliance has done an excellent job of Branding agile.


For more information on how the South Florida Chapter of PMI can help you obtain Agile certifications (PMI-ACP), please email: education@southfloridapmi.org


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