Agile (with a capital “A”) project management is a set of practices for moving complex projects along as efficiently as possible, with the primary goal of meeting customer needs through continuous innovation.
It is also a practice I’ve used on multiple occasions in a variety of contexts, and I’ll be honest — there is a reason the folks in software development swear by Agile for actually getting things done: It works.
Outside of the software industry however, not too many people understand Agile methodologies, and especially terminologies, creating a barrier for entry. Damien Troy, writing for the excellent Innovation Enterprise blog, put together a wonderful introduction to Agile for non-tech people.
As he explains in his introduction:
The initial purpose of Agile project management is exactly what you might expect it to be – it aims to keep project management as Agile as possible. Most modern industries are developing and changing so rapidly that project managers today don’t really have the luxury of putting together a plan and staying loyal to it. In which case, Agile aims to help teams work faster and become less dependent on strict plans and strategies.
Why is Agile relevant in today’s world?
Overall, the values of Agile aim to lead teams and project managers away from simply satisfying a plan and helps them instead to focus on success in terms of the final product and its reception. The original manifesto, and Agile as a whole, has tried to change a long-standing definition of success that existed in project management at the time, whereby teams were given goals and ultimately they worked to complete these goals rather than investigating whether or not these goals were still relevant to organizationtion or held long-term value. This then moves onto the principles of Agile, which covers how teams might go about satisfying these values and achieving success.
Careful, though: Once you start going down the rabbit hole of Agile, there is no turning back…
Image courtesy Wikipedia