The Agile Brand – What is Being Marketed?

During the past conference that we attended, we met with so many people who have heard of Agile, but wanted to learn more. One of the questions we should have asked participants is:

“What do you think Agile is?”


“What have you heard about Agile?”

Maybe, first, it would help to know what Agile is NOT.

It would have been interesting to see what responses we would have gotten. With so much information around the web and beyond, Agile certainly can take on different flavors. Ken Schwaber has told us before that often times people, when they think of Agile, automatically assume Scrum.

Sounds like we may need to do a survey sometime. Or is there already one out there?

Let us know in the comments.

9 Replies to “The Agile Brand – What is Being Marketed?”

  1. I’m going to take a little liberty with Justice Potter Stewart’s opinion in Jacobellis v. Ohio 378 U.S. 184 (1964)

    “I shall not today attempt further to define the kinds of material I understand to be embraced within that shorthand description [“Agile”]; and perhaps I could never succeed in intelligibly doing so. But I know it when I see it, and the project involved in this case is not that. [Emphasis added.]

    The fun part is knowing what Justice Stewart was really talking about.

  2. This “What is )the definition of) Agile” stuff comes up regularly and I have never understood why. Agile’s definition is what is in the Values of the Agile Manifesto and associated Principles. Until they were defined, the term “Agile” had no meaning related to software development. (Not that ideas that have come to be associated with that term were not already in existence and being used under terms like, “lite” methods, evolutionary models, iterative development, etc.)

    But “Agile” is those 4 Values and 12 Principles.

    Now if people complain, as I have heard them do, that the Values and Principles “don’t say how to ‘do’ anything,” then we’re moving into the realm of practices and specific methods which almost all existed before the term “Agile” was applied to them. To Ken’s point, it certainly is true that from a “what to do” perspective Scrum and XP are what people think of at this point.

    Few people say they are “doing Crystal” or FDD or ASD or, except in Europe, DSDM. (On the latter, I am not sure how widely outside of, or even in, Europe, DSDM is practiced, but I know, at least, that it is in some organizations in Europe.) However, people “doing Scrum” include many XP practices and often talk about the MoSCoW method of prioritization from DSDM, for example. Various Crystal practices show up in how some teams/orgs practice an Agile approach, too.

    However, “Agile,” for me, is that set of 4 Values and 12 Principles. They are the “touchstones” for judging all method behavior and practices as far as I am concerned. So whatever people do, their degree of Agility is based, as I see it, on how close to the intent of the Values and Principles that “doing” is.

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