What is “Agile?” – Charles Duhigg gives a clear description in Smarter Faster Better

Agile – adjective 
able to move quickly and easily

quick, smart, and clever


Smarter Better FasterIf I were to write a blog post on each of the useful pieces of information in Smarter Faster Better: The Secrets of Being Productive in Life and Business, the new book by Charles Duhigg, well… that might take a while.

One of his gifts is that he is a great explainer. And also a great story teller. And both of those gifts make for some great reading.

So, here’s a piece of his insight.

I have read some about “Agile,” and know that “agile” is big. Bob Morris recently interviewed authors Ellen Auster and Lisa Hillenbrand, authors of the book Stragility: Excelling at Strategic Changes, a book that builds on this “agile” approach. (Read Bob’s blog post here).

So, what is “Agile?” Here’s Mr. Duhigg’s short and clear summary of the Agile approach from his book:

In 2001, a group of computer programmers had gathered to write a set of principles, called the “Manifesto for Agile Software Development.” The Agile methodology, as it came to be known, emphasized collaboration, frequent testing, rapid iteration, and pushing decision making to whoever was closest to a problem. It quickly revolutionized software development and now is the standard methodology among many tech firms.

Notice the elements:

  • collaboration is central to the process
  • frequent testing with rapid iteration
  • and decision making is made by the person closest to the problem

But it is the simple dictionary definition that gives the “why” — agile means able to move quickly and easily
.” That is certainly the need in today’s business environment.

Like so many other business ideas, I have much to learn. I’ll have to read more about the ascendancy and use of “agile.” But it certainly sounds like Agile is here to stay.


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