What can one conclude about becoming agile?

Daniel J. Power
and Ciara Heavin

Agile is often better than bureaucratic. Agile values and principles, when internalized, do help cope with a volatile, uncertain, changing, and ambiguous situation. Agile values enhance the project development process and promote communication both horizontally and vertically throughout an organization. Agile practices enhance innovation through high-performance multidisciplinary teams and ensure business value by direct client involvement throughout the entire delivery process, eg., Paquette and Frankl (2015). Also, an organization's "transition from a plan-based approach to Agile should result in the reduction of management overhead and lessen the burden of formalities from your creative development team." (See SoftwareTestingHelp (2019) article).

Agile does not prescribe a specific set of actions, behaviors, or steps.

Agile is a culture, a worldview, and a mindset; it is not a methodology.

Agile is about responding to and anticipating the customer and the market. Agile is about making the creation of value for customers the highest priority.

Agile is about learning to respond effectively to both the unexpected and the unplanned.

Agile is people-focused, but tasks are also important.

Agile is about incremental delivery.

Agile when successfully applied for large projects and potentially an entire organization can provide dramatic gains in effectiveness, efficiency and value.

Agile still requires processes, tools, documentation, contract negotiation and long and short-range plans. Do not eliminate these activities and capabilities.

Managers must have a clear vision of why they are transitioning to agile and the business goals for the change, cf., Smith (2012). Managers must understand and be agile before implementation and transition of processes and work.

Agile organizations need to use real-time communication and work-management tools. Implementing a modular-based software architecture enables teams to effectively use technologies that other units have developed, cf., Aghina et al. (2018).

Agile emphasizes continuous attention to technical excellence and solutions that are simple, flexible, and ready for adaptation and change.

Transitioning into an Agile delivery approach is a challenging task. Be patient and persistent.

Based on Meyer (2015) and Frick (2016), being Agile is not about moving fast, rather it is about adaptability and learning. Also, Agile processes lead to more collaboration and better solutions.

Todaro (2020) identifies keys to being agile, including identifying and completing small chunks of work, prioritizing tasks, focusing on the high priority tasks and user stories, communicating and collaborating effectively, being part of a team, solving problems, focusing on making progress, and tracking progress toward delivering value.

In general, know that "There is no lasting failure, only feedback." Learn to approach everything as a lesson, adjusting your actions according to feedback, and proceeding toward desired outcomes, resulting in continuous improvement. Agile means you have joined the quest to learn.

Becoming agile is an ongoing journey that involves reflection, introspection, and thoughtfulness. One does not magically become "agile".

Agility is now a key to business success. The importance of agility and the agile mindset has been increasing.

Creating an agile organization will require managers to 1) re-evaluate roles, 2) increase training, 3) familiarize staff and customers with changing practices and processes, and 4) develop new communication/collaboration expectations.

An agile dance changes as the situation and the rhythm change. Do the agile dance that fits a situation and accept that change during the dance is OK. The dance may start as a waltz and change to the tango, then a line dance or quickstep ... and then revert to a waltz or vice versa. There are few rules governing agile.

Think agile, do agile, and be agile. Dance on ...


Aghina, W., Karin Ahlback, Aaron De Smet, Gerald Lackey, Michael Lurie, Monica Murarka, and Christopher Handscomb, "The five trademarks of agile organizations," McKinsey Report, January 2018 at URL

Dierdorf, S. (2019), Becoming Agile, version 1.3 at URL

Frick, T., "Five Lessons Learned From Agile Processes," Mightybytes Blog, 2/24/2016, Business Strategy, Events and Workshops at URL

Meyer, P., The Agility Shift: Creating Agile and Effective Leaders, Teams, and Organizations, Taylor & Francis, 2015. Paquette, P. and M. Frankl, Agile Project Management for Business Transformation Success, Business Expert Press, 2015.

Smith, G. (2012). What does it take to become agile? Paper presented at PMI® Global Congress 2012—North America, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Newtown Square, PA: Project Management Institute bat URL Concluding Thoughts About Agile Implementation In Your Organization Nov 10, 2019

Todaro, D., "9 Lessons Learned from Experts Practicing Agile," Ascendle, January 17, 2020 at URL

van Gerven, M., "Key challenges for Agile: Confronting the bad and the ugly," January 9, 2019 at URL

Last update: 2020-02-18 03:45
Author: Daniel Power

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