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Agile Coaches' Corner shares practical concepts in an approachable way. It is for agile practitioners and business leaders seeking expert advice on improving the way they work to achieve their desired outcomes. If you have a topic you'd like discussed, email it to, or tweet it with #agilethoughtpodcast.

May 20, 2022

Dan Neumann, your host, has been reviewing the history of the Agile Coaches Corner Podcast and encountered the most popular show among these 184 episodes, it is titled “What is Agile?” and was hosted by himself and Sam Falco.


In this episode, you will get the chance to listen again to the most listened episode so far, which explores the foundations of Agility and the history of the Agile Manifesto,


Key Takeaways

  • Why was it important for the Agile Manifesto to be declared? What is the history behind it?
    • It was created in reaction to what was happening in the software industry in 2001 (predominantly waterfall and other predictive methods with bad track records for delivering on time).
    • In response to “scope creep” (AKA changes or uncontrolled growth in a project’s scope at any point after a project begins).
    • Because it is very difficult to predict what you need to do when you’re trying to solve a new problem every time.
    • Out of necessity (as any work that requires creativity and a high degree of uncertainty about the outcome you’re trying to achieve [such as software development] is difficult without a set of principles and values).
    • Because every problem is unique with software development.
  • In the Harvard Business Review in 1986, an article was published titled, “The New New Development Game” which outlined the need for a new way of working where teams could be given objectives instead of tasks and they work together as a unit to accomplish their work.
    • The “relay race” method was clearly not working and agility offered a better model, better compared to playing rugby.
  • What is the Agile Manifesto?
    • It’s the thing we point to when someone says, “What is agile?”
    • Those that came up with the Agile Manifesto didn’t put it together to justify their existence; they put it together because they recognized the success they were having through its methodology and wanted to figure out the commonalities.
    • If you’re asking if something is agile, you can reference the manifesto’s values and principles.
  • What is Agile?
    • It’s creating a competitive advantage and being a disruptive force.
    • Delivering working software as your primary measure of success.
    • A collection of values and principles as laid out in the Agile Manifesto.
    • It is the ability to deliberately respond to change and demand; not just react.
    • Controlling risk.
    • Building stuff that people actually want and will use.
    • Solve the problem that the customer has called for and not gold plating everything.
    • Agile practices are simply that; practices — they’re good in some circumstances and not good in others.
  • Are you changing just to change or are you harnessing change for competitive advantage? Is change happening to you or are you creating the change?
    • Change is not just about keeping up with your competition but making your competition keep up with you.


Mentioned in this Episode:

“The New New Product Development Game,” by Hirotaka Takeuchi and Ikujiro Nonaka | Harvard Business Review (January 1986)

Agile Software Development Ecosystems: Problems, Practices, and Principles, by James A. Highsmith

The Surprising Power of Liberating Structures: Simple Rules to Unleash A Culture of Innovation, by Henri Lipmanowicz and Keith McCandless


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