While it’s been called a mindset, method, methodology, umbrella term for lightweight methods, manifesto, process or framework, agile is an adjective (an agile dancer, an agile team, an agile dog). It means “characterized by a ready ability to move with quick easy grace” or “having a quick, resourceful and adaptable character.” If you’re interested in continuously improving, this adjective sets a high bar. For me, the definitions of agile come before any agile principles or practices. They are our starting point:

ballerina shoes, modern agile principles, word cloud

The principles I list in the above image come from modernagile. You could easily substitute Heart of Agile. At a recent client, they selected their own agile principles.

The above image is also inspired from the original by Ahmed Sidkey:

sideways cone coming out of a brain, across four sections

Ahmed’s image describes agile as a mindset and says that the mindset is described by the values and principles of the Manifesto for Agile Software Development. This is a useful view as well. So why did I chose to make a derivative version?

I like the word mindset. It’s defined as “a mental attitude or inclination.” An agile attitude or inclination is good, yet I see agile as more of a skill, something we need to develop. The adjective conveys that well.

I find the Manifesto for Agile Software Development to be enormously helpful and yet it’s not something I show to non-technical people, like the good folks developing new medicines at a recent Industrial Logic client. They need agile language that applies to their world, not software development. This means that the four values (including “Working software over comprehensive documentation”) and twelve principles aren’t quite a good fit. Of course, there are values and principles that are not associated with software, yet the mere mention of software to non-software people can often turn them off.

So that’s it. Agile is an adjective, guided by principles and realized in unlimited ways. I hope the graphic is helpful. As always, I’d love to hear your thoughts and comments, suggestions for improvement, etc.