Question: What is agile?
There are as many different definitions of agile as there are practitioners. Not to be outdone, here is mine:
Agile is collaboration among stakeholders to deliver value to customers in frequent increments with consistent reflection and adaptation.
Question: In your experience, what are the core trends of agile? That is, what is both necessary and sufficient to have an agile development methodology?
I’m not sure if I am directly addressing the question, but I thought I would cover the four key components of an effective agile approach from my definition listed above.
- Collaboration – The key people, those with domain knowledge and those with the appropriate technical skills, work together on a daily basis to accomplish the overall objective of the project. The team works on a continuous basis to remove all barriers to communication, including distance, time, team dynamics, and politics.
- Delivering value to customers – I define business value as progress toward meeting business objectives. Delivering value to customers means delivering something to customers that will help them meet their business objectives, or delivering something for which they are willing to pay. Conversely, this also means not delivering things that do not meet either of those criteria.
- Frequent increments – Organize efforts into small time periods – somewhere from two to four weeks, and deliver something for feedback and potential use at the end of each of these time periods.
- Reflect and Adapt – At the end of each time period mentioned above, take a moment to reflect on the process used to deliver the product, the feedback on the product itself, and adapt processes going forward accordingly, applying the opportunity for continuous learning.
Question: How do you describe agile to business partners?
The definition and characteristics listed above are a good start.
I also explain it to them that they have the opportunity to see actual working product (usually a software application) on a regular basis so that they can provide meaningful feedback and have a higher chance of getting what they want.