There are some principles however, that can help you in moving towards agility, following its path. In the IT world they can be found in the Manifesto for Agile Software Development:
- Individuals and interactions over processes and tools
- Working software over comprehensive documentation
- Customer collaboration over contract negotiation
- Responding to change over following a plan
To build software in an agile manner, the whole organization must live up to those principles. They don’t belong only on training papers or posters – they must be put into practice on the daily. From my experience and talking with many people involved in or willing to transform their companies to agile working places, there is a common misunderstanding linked to the first point of the Manifesto. Such a change is most of all a cultural change, not a new process to follow (as perceived by some). And it can be a painful one – switching from Taylor’s theory of control and cumulating decisive power (40 levels of approvals included) to full transparency, trust and handing the power over to the teams is hard to implement, sometimes maybe even impossible.
But let’s get back to the questions posed at the beginning of the article. I believe it makes no sense to say, "we are agile" (except for sale purposes maybe – joke of course 😉). There is no checklist or set of elements you can tick, and say "done". Even the points from the Manifesto are too generic to say "yes, we fulfill them". They rather are guidelines to help you work better in order to achieve your business goals in the IT world.