AoAD2 Chapter: How to Be Agile

This is an excerpt from The Art of Agile Development, Second Edition. Visit the Second Edition home page for additional excerpts and more!

This excerpt is copyright 2007, 2021 by James Shore and Shane Warden. Although you are welcome to share this link, do not distribute or republish the content without James Shore’s express written permission.

How to Be Agile

How do you get from Agile’s conglomeration of ideas to actual, functioning Agile teams?

Practice. Lots and lots of practice.

Practicing Agile

Every team has a way of working—a process, or method—that it follows, even if it isn’t formally written down. The method reflects an underlying philosophy of software development, although that philosophy is rarely articulated and isn’t necessarily self-consistent.

To be Agile, you need to change your process to reflect the Agile philosophy.

To be Agile, you need to change your process to reflect the Agile philosophy. This is both easier and harder than it sounds. It’s easy because, in most cases, you can start with one of the many off-the-shelf Agile methods, such as the one in this book. It’s hard because you need to change your way of working, and that involves changing a lot of habits.

The Agile community calls those habits practices. Most of this book is dedicated to them. They’re things like planning sessions, automated builds, and stakeholder demos. Most have been around for decades. Agile methods combine them in unique ways, accentuating those parts that support the Agile philosophy, discarding the rest, and mixing in a few new ideas. The result is a lean, powerful, self-reinforcing package.

Agile practices often perform double- and triple-duty, solving multiple problems simultaneously and supporting each other in clever and surprising ways. You won’t truly understand how an Agile method works until you’ve seen it in action for a while.

As a result, although it’s tempting to customize your Agile method from the beginning, it’s best to start with a by-the-book approach. The practices that are the least familiar are the ones that are most tempting to cut, but they’re the ones you need most, if you’re really going to be Agile. They’re the ones that involve the biggest change in philosophy.

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In this Section

  1. How to Be Agile
    1. Practicing Agile
    2. The Road to Mastery
    3. How to Begin
      1. Joining an Agile Team
      2. Introducing Agile
      3. Improving Existing Agile Teams
      4. Applying Individual Agile Practices

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