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What is an Agile Environment? - Definition & Example

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  • 0:04 Being Agile
  • 1:30 The Agile Environment
  • 1:51 Characteristics & Examples
  • 5:10 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: CaSandra Minichiello

CaSandra has a bachelor's degree in Computer Information Systems and has taught Agile along with Scrum and Kanban for over 10 years.

In this lesson, we'll examine what it means for companies to be agile. We'll then take a look at the definition of the term agile and explore some examples of an agile environment.

Being Agile

What does it mean to be agile? If you were to ask seasoned software developers or technical project managers, they may refer to the word agile as a set of principles and values that encourage breaking large portions of a project into smaller functional portions that can be developed quickly. This process also has been known as iterative software development. If you were to ask your high school English teacher, she or he would likely send you to the dictionary, which would probably define agile as the ability to move quickly and easily. So who's got the correct answer? Well, they both do!

The word 'agile' became a formal term used by many in software development industries when in 2001, seventeen software developers created the Agile Manifesto, which lists values and principles of iterative software development. While there are many software development methods or methodologies that fall under the description of being agile, the Agile Manifesto is more about behavior and culture than a set of methods or processes.

Many software development companies strive to be agile because this enables them to deliver quality software to their customers sooner than their non-agile competitors. So, it's considered a good thing to be agile.

Now that you have a little history of the term agile used in the context of software development, let's explore the agile environment and some of the key principles and values of the Agile Manifesto.

The Agile Environment

An agile environment is defined as an environment that creates and supports a culture that encourages a team of people to work toward a common goal. This is done by incorporating the importance and value of individuals and their interactions - especially in terms of working to achieve quality, collaboration, and acceptance of frequent change in the company culture.

Characteristics and Examples

Let's pretend you are the CEO of a new, emerging software company. You want to be competitive in today's market so you decide that agile methods and behaviors should become part of your company's culture. By making this decision, you're already setting a good foundation for your organization to become agile. But what does it look and feel like to be in an agile environment?

Face-to-Face Conversations & Collaboration

Because agile environments are highly collaborative, individuals and interactions are valued more than tools and processes. Email, chat, and other tools shouldn't replace face-to-face conversations, which are the most effective ways to communicate. Not only does productivity increase, but also the interactions between team members help create trust and an atmosphere of collaboration.

Agile work spaces should be created to encourage frequent conversations and collaboration. Work spaces should be open with little or no walls so that people can easily communicate. An agile environment will have many social areas that have sofas or other comfortable seating, movable chairs, tables, and white boards. All these characteristics help reiterate that face-to-face conversations and collaboration are highly valued in agile environments.

Change Is Expected and Embraced

Change is inevitable.

In traditional project management practices, a project manager creates detailed time and task-driven project plans that more or less speculate or predict when a project will be completed. The problem is that projects can take months, if not, years to complete. By the time the final product is delivered to the customer, it may no longer be valuable, or worse, it might not even be what the customer really envisioned.

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