What is Agile?

Is Agile a methodology or philosophy?

I have worked with several teams in the past half a decade, across the globe. There has been confusion among many professionals centring on the fact of calling Agile as a specific ‘Methodology’. 

Photo by Petri Heiskanen 

So, the question is, if you can’t call Agile a Methodology, what is it actually?

Googling the definition of the term provides you with the following results:



  1. able to move quickly and easily.
    “Ruth was as agile as a monkey”
  2. nimble
  3. Relating to or denoting a method of project management, used especially for software development, that is characterized by the division of tasks into short phases of work and frequent reassessment and adaptation of plans.

What is the explanation for ‘simple yet fast’?

In order to know the answer clearly, you can watch True History of Agile. The video clip clearly tells that Agile is practically a strong, balanced philosophy. It is about a continuous process of learning, and evolving your mindset. In the context of developing a software product, Agile is, in essence, the capacity to quickly respond efficiently to changes more rapidly, maintaining simplicity. 

Nowadays, without simplifying their business and intent of continuous learning, several organisations call themselves Agile. 

Even today, when I interact with various executives, who claim they are agile, I find out that there is inefficiency in the implementation of the right principles within the framework. Moreover, these executives don’t deliver consistently. They don’t aim to iterate focusing on incremental solutions. There is no continuous improvement in the framework. Particularly, teams are not self-managing. They are also not empowered. Worse, the heavyweight and commonly used methodologies today have no resemblance with the agile principles and concepts described clearly in Agile Manifesto.  

Many among us, who are experienced, can identify what authentic agile is and what is not. Yet, it doesn’t seem easy to define it. Agile is beyond the ‘four value statements, or the 12 principles, mentioned in the Agile Manifesto. 

For me, Agile is:

Expertise to respond faster with simplicity, improving continuously by expanding the overall solution space and adding value in the context of the teams and organization involved in creating such solution sets for our customers that are valuable. 

What is your experience in this regard? 

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