Agile does not mean fast

When people think of Agile, what drives customers’ interest in Agile is thinking that Agile will enable them to get projects don’t faster and cheaper than the classic project management. But that is not always the case.  

Agile is not synonymous with fast. The dictionary defines “agile” as “able to move quickly and easily”. An Agile team is one that can quickly and easily react to changes in project’s requirements and new ideas as the project takes shape in front of the customer. If you think of a project as a road trip from point A (start of the project) to point B (delivery of the project), an Agile team is the one that doesn’t get slowed down or thrown off course by road construction, avalanches or collapsed bridges. Agile teams don’t blindly follow the GPS. If the GPS is leading them straight into the ocean, they can adjust their course quickly enough to not slow down the project. They don’t need to stop or even return back home and plan a different route.

But all that does not imply that they will get to their destination faster than anyone else. It just means that they will get to their destination, no matter the obstacles along the way.

Such agility, however, comes at a cost. The overall trip may end up taking longer than what the GPS originally promised you because it didn’t know about the missing bridge ahead. And it may even cost more: you might need to bring an extra person with you, someone who knows the roads well. But you will get to your destination and with great road trip stories to tell.

 

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30 Responses

  1. Hi Alex,

    You’re bringing up a very important point here. All clients and most executives thing of Agile as a fast PM methodology, and that’s the essence of the confusion and the high expecations from Agile.

    Someone needs to change this mindset.

  2. It’s not just the executives. Many IT practitioners themselves tend to fall into this trap. For some reason, when I think of the word “agile”, I think of a cheetah and cheetahs, as we all know, are the fastest animals.
    I have to explain this difference a few times to developers who are new to Agile.

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