What we today know as “agile practices” have been developed in the software industry.
Today “software is eating the world” (Wall Street Journal, 2011) and meanwhile is dominating all other industries.
But on its way up, software companies went through big crises. Much had been promised to customers in the 1980s and 1990s, but comparably little was achieved. The complexity of assignments had been greatly underestimated.
New ways of organizing and collaborating of highly specialized knowledge workers had to be found.
Basic discoveries have been made regarding how to organize and and how to collaborate:
- Complex, innovative solutions evolve mainly through collaboration between people and teams.
- Highly specialized knowledge worker need self-organizing, cross-functional units to be effective.
- “Test-and-learn” instead of “plan-and-implement” promises much more success when it comes to new and innovative challenges.
- Short feedback-cycles, internally between people and teams as well as externally with clients, are key elements for success.
- When it comes to completely new fields of action, co-creation with the customers is a must.
Thus, practices as adaptive planning, evolutionary development, continuous improvement and rapid and flexible responses to change have become key elements of any successful strategy.
The term “agile” in the context of software development has first been introduced in 2001 with the The Manifesto for Agile Software Development, also known as the Agile Manifesto:
Meanwhile, other industries are discovering these agile practices. More and more organizations recognize that an increasingly interconnected world can not be run with simple “plan-and-implement” approaches. A complex environment needs new ways of management. For that matter much can be learnt from agile practices.