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      agile (or Agile). Which is it for you?

      By Melissa Smith     

      When people in agencies talk about being Agile in any context other than software development, be suspicious.

      There’s a creeping trend among agency types to identify as Agile, when what they really mean is plain old agile.

      So what’s the difference?

      The distinction between the two is subtle but important. The compilers of the Oxford Dictionaries know this because the site offers two definitions for agile:

      1: able to move quickly and easily. Able to think and understand quickly.

      ‘Ruth was as agile as a monkey’

      2: relating to or denoting a method of project management, used especially for software development that is characterised by the division of tasks into short phases of work and frequent reassessment and adaptation of plans.

      ‘Agile methods replace high-level design with frequent redesign’

      I frequently hear people talk about the need to be agile or work in an agile way. Which is fine if they’re promoting quick thinking, uncluttered decision-making and being adaptable. (definition 1 above).

      The trouble is, too often they’re referring to Agile (definition 2). Now don’t get me wrong, Agile is a brilliant project management methodology for software development teams. But for the rest of us, it’s largely irrelevant. For most people who namedrop it – usually to sound impressive – their understanding of Agile is, well… fragile.

      Here’s an example. Liking the sound of it, one well-respected international agency decided it needed to be more agile, so spread the word internally. Unfortunately, it didn’t back the concept up with much in the way of detail for the staff. Consequently, the account manager who tried to invoke this new spirit of corporate agility by demanding resource right now, was surprised when the resource manager couldn’t oblige.

      Decide what’s right for you

      So the point here is to forget about being agile – with or without a small A – and think instead about exactly what your business really needs. If you need more flexibility, for example, examine your processes and find out where you can give yourself more options.

      If your people need guidance on how to work in a less linear, waterfall fashion whilst managing and mitigating the associated risks, there are project management courses and workshops that will serve you far better than anything selling ‘agility’.

      That’s not to say borrowing some ideas from Agile and weaving them into your processes is necessarily a bad idea (morning scrum before a sprint, anyone?). Just don’t bend your business out of shape by trying to make it fit a framework created for a specific discipline.

      If you want to be more agile and streamline your project processes then get in touch with Melissa, our project management consultant and trainer, Or get in touch to attend Melissa’s next CPD certified project management workshop