An umbrella term for iterative, incremental software development methodologies. Agile approaches include Extreme Programming (XP), Scrum, Kanban, and Lean.

Agile methodologies arose in response to traditional, phase-driven “waterfall” development methods. Those emphasize top-down project management; “big design up front”; silos for architecture and design, coding, and testing; and extensive documentation. Agile methodologies share an emphasis on small teams delivering small increments of working software with great frequency while working in close collaboration with the customer and adapting to changing requirements.

Although the agile mindset originated with software, it has since been used for non-software projects such as in manufacturing, support, and marketing. For example, see the discussion at Can You Use Agile Project Management for Non-Software Projects

Background Of The Term

The term “agile” was first used by a group of software pundits who gathered at a ski lodge in Snowbird, Utah for the express purpose of naming and defining the greater movement in which they deemed themselves to all be participants. The original invitation to Snowbird went out to those interested in “lightweight” development frameworks. The attendees agreed that they didn’t like the negative connotations of “lightweight”, instead adopting the term “agile.”

Out of that meeting came the Agile Manifesto.

Further Learning

History: The Agile Manifesto – a little historical background on the manifesto and reflection on agility as recounted by Jim Highsmith, one of the signatories.

What Is Agile Product Management: Guide To Processes & Roles – blog post by Michael Luchen

What is Agile? – blog post from Atlassian

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4 Responses to Agile

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  3. Tim says:

    Do I capitalize agile when I am writing about it as in Agile, or is it agile?

    • Chris Sims says:

      I found this article on 10 Rules Of Capitalization to be helpful in answering this question. Agile doesn’t fit any of the ten rules, and should be lowercase, unless it is at the beginning of a sentence, like this one. It’s also worth noting that agile shouldn’t be used as a noun; it’s an adjective or an adverb, depending on how it’s used.

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