Rise Of Agile Teams
Software developers know that the ability to consistently produce and adapt to the changing market is a much-vaunted skill, hence the stock many teams put in the Agile Team concept. Though many know about the Agile Manifesto, one of the most vaunted tome regarding the mindset, its rise to prominence extends beyond this document. Like most every solution, it was developed to counter a challenge. In this case, that challenge was the limitation of the traditional sequential phases of software projects.
Though sources like the Harvard Business Review can point you to “trace agile methodologies” that existed as early as the 1620s, the more recent catalyst for the idea of Agile was born of the frustration of 90s software developers. At that time, the development cycle was one way, a sequential set of phases that some viewed as excessively rigid. Start with your requirements, then to design, then implementation, then verification, and at last, maintenance of the final product through monitoring and code coverage with logging.
The downside came from this linear format. Once one phase is underway, you can’t go back, even if factors have arisen that would justify such a move (like wanting to add features to an app due to changes in the market). The fact that the entire process was heavily regulated and micro-managed made development clumsy, and throughout the 90s, several new methods were created that circumvented those traditional hurdles.
Flash forward to 2001, when practitioners of these methods came together to discuss their various techniques. Together, they collectively penned the Manifesto For Agile Software Development, commonly known today as simply the Agile Manifesto. The publication contains the values, principles, and practices most highly valued for quick development of software, placing a high priority on customer feedback and the ample communication between the software team.
This, in turn, gave rise to the idea of Agile Software Development, which, as Forbes so succinctly puts, is more of a mindset than a rigid collection of methodologies. What made this mindset so effective? In addition to the focus on the customer, there are several key principles (and secondary concerns) that proved particularly useful. Most notably, Agile’s emphasis on self-organization & motivation, and the focus on being able to respond to change & continuous development.
Since the publication of the Agile Manifesto, proponents have come together in groups, amending the original principles and “spreading the word,” so to speak, of this style of development. Though there are many intricacies born of this propagation (and similar concepts like Scrum and Agile consultancy that sometimes lead to confusion), as Forbes once again points out that Agile, used correctly, can lead to big gains. This is why it has become more and more of a hot topic in recent years, as organizations realize that the mindset could help them improve upon reaching their goals.
Of course, adapting the idea requires some tricky navigation. One must learn how agile “really” works, have an understanding of what situations call for its implementation, cultivate a top-down approach to updating an organizational mindset, and keep the team on the same page to get the job done right. Remember the oft-repeated advice that it’s not enough to simply “do” agile, a team (and its members) have to be agile to bring the practice to life.