Doing Agile isn’t the same as Being Agile

Doing agile refers to organizations that fail to move beyond the simpler trappings of agility: iterations, daily stand up meetings, and so on. Being agile refers to organizations with inherent values, behaviors, and guiding principles that exhibit the essence and spirit of agility: adaptive, evolutionary, value-driven, and quality-driven development. Organizations that are agile also do agile, but the inverse is not necessarily true. Many organizations are decidedly non-agile while still utilizing many agile practices.


Some software organizations are falling into the trap of looking to agile as a prescriptive methodology that can be imposed on software engineering teams to make them faster and better. Guess what — it isn’t working!

Agile is a style of working, not a methodology or process. Agile is founded on a shared set of core values including ‘individuals and interactions’, ‘working software’, ‘customer collaboration’ and ‘responding to change’.

Agile espouses a set of guiding principles including ‘the early and continuous delivery of value’, ‘welcoming changing requirements’, ‘frequent delivery of a working system’, ‘daily collaboration between developers and business experts’, and ‘self-organizing teams of experts’.

There are methodologies such as Scrum, eXtreme Programming, and Lean that introduce practices that are consistent with these values and principles, but agile is inherently a way of “being” that involves the entire organization, not just development teams.

Summing-up: For an organization in order to be successful in applying ‘agile’, it is not enough to adopt the agile practices, but not the philosophy. It’s the philosophy that leads to the practices, not the other way around.

These notes have been taken from:

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