A Beginner’s Guide to Agile: How to Get Started

February is around the corner and the 22nd anniversary of the Agile Manifesto is approaching, with that in mind I considered it would be a great opportunity to write a short guide for newcomers to Agile.

First things first, let’s talk about the Agile Manifesto a document written in 2001 by a group of software developers who wanted to create a new approach to software development that was more adaptive and responsive to change. Want to learn more about how the Manifesto came to be? Take a look at this blog post by Jeff Sutherland one of the authors of the Manifesto.

The Manifesto is a short one-page document, where you will find the guiding values and principles for Agile software development.

The four guiding values found in the Manifesto are:

  • Individuals and interactions over processes and tools.
  • Working software over comprehensive documentation.
  • Customer collaboration over contract negotiation.
  • Responding to change over following a plan.

And below you will find the twelve guiding principles for Agile that are included in the Manifesto:

  1. Our highest priority is to satisfy the customer through early and continuous delivery of valuable software.
  2. Welcome changing requirements, even late in development. Agile processes harness change for the customer’s competitive advantage.
  3. Deliver working software frequently, from a couple of weeks to a couple of months, with a preference to the shorter timescale.
  4. Business people and developers must work together daily throughout the project.
  5. Build projects around motivated individuals. Give them the environment and support they need, and trust them to get the job done.
  6. The most efficient and effective method of conveying information to and within a development team is face-to-face conversation.
  7. Working software is the primary measure of progress.
  8. Agile processes promote sustainable development. The sponsors, developers, and users should be able to maintain a constant pace indefinitely.
  9. Continuous attention to technical excellence and good design enhances agility.
  10. Simplicity–the art of maximizing the amount of work not done–is essential.
  11. The best architectures, requirements, and designs emerge from self-organizing teams.
  12. At regular intervals, the team reflects on how to become more effective, then tunes and adjusts its behavior accordingly.

If you see from the list above Agile is all about being adaptive and responsive to change! Becoming an Agile practitioner requires both a change of mindset, as well the way you approach work.

Now that you have a general understanding of what Agile is, let’s talk about how to get into the mindset of working with the values and principles of Agile. The best way to do this is to start experimenting with Agile techniques and practices. You can start with small steps, such as time-boxed iterations, daily stand-up meetings, and retrospectives. These practices will help you and your team to become more adaptable and responsive to change, I will be covering some of these practices in future blog posts.

Another important aspect of Agile is continuous improvement. You should regularly review and reflect on your team’s progress and processes, and make adjustments as needed. This will help you to stay aligned with the Agile values and principles and to continuously improve your team’s performance.

When it comes to frameworks, there are several different ones that are used in Agile practices. One of the most popular frameworks is Scrum, it consists of roles, events, and artifacts that help teams to deliver working software in a collaborative and adaptive way. To learn more about Scrum start by reading the Scrum Guide, since Scrum is a widely used framework for Agile practitioners it can be great way to get started with Agile as well.

The key difference between Agile as a practice and Scrum as a framework is that Agile is a set of values and principles, while Scrum is a specific implementation of those values and principles.

In conclusion, becoming an Agile practitioner is all about learning, experimenting, and continuous improvement. It’s not just a set of practices, it’s a culture. Embrace change, be open to new ideas, and get involved in the Agile community. Attend Agile conferences, meetups, or online groups to learn from other practitioners and stay current on the latest trends and best practices. Remember, Agile is a journey and not a destination, so enjoy the ride!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s