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This is a set of little articles on how to be agile - and specifically how to think and behave in an Agile way. It concentrates on ideas and "thinking agile", not on specific techniques or methods to achieve agility.

Please note - these are open resources - free to use, but they remain copyright of Agile Coach Online. You must always reference the source and display our copyright notice if you use them. They must not be reproduced or included as part of a commercial activity without our explicit written permission.


General Techniques
For individuals For teams For organisations

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Detailed contents


Covers basic agile ideas we should all be thinking about

  • Thinking Agile - Agile is a way of thinking about things, not a tool or method or set of practices. Start here to really get what agile is
  • Key ideas on a page - If you do not have time to read anything else, read this. Covers the key points of Agile in a page
  • Common misconceptions - There are people who are averse to agile (despite all the proof that it works well). These views are often based on a few misuderstandings about what Agile is. Learn about the reasons they are misconceptions
  • Comparing Agile and traditional approaches - If you come from a traditional requirements-specification-build-deliver background then agile can look scary. This article shows how it relates to what you know and how we have added better things without losing the best of what came before
  • Software development caused Agile - Changes in the way we work with technology changes the way we work. Software development - designing and delivering appropriate solutions - is one of the areas that has had the most impact on creating agile appraches to working. It is good to understand how software development has changed and why the achievements in that area inform agile
  • Old roles to new - agile blurs boundaries between roles to ensure we have common objectives and collaborate well. This has an impact on what roles exist in an organisation. We all have to redefine any 'traditional' roles and embrace the changes by redefining ourselves


A short summary of words and approaches you might have come across which refer to specific ways of being agile. This does not explain them in detail, but familiarises you with them and links to external resources about each

  • Common methodologies - concisely summarises the approaches and frameworks you might hear about or use. Does not advocate any of them
  • Backlogs: the key to the enterprise - explains why backlogs matter and why they are a key component of being agile, whatever approach you choose
  • Just In Time thinking - another core part of being truly agile, and a hard one to get into your head
  • Management by exception - a very important technique for agile, though rarely discussed by name in the agile literature. It is about effective ways to devolve decision-making and responsibility. This helps us reduce the overheads of hiearchical thinking and create a leaner and more effective way of working
  • Tools to support agility - tools do not make you agile, but the right tool used in the right way helps a lot

For an Individual

Agile only works if everyone finds it of value and participates. Learn how to make Agile work for you

  • Empowerment - agile breaks hierarchies and gives individuals more power to take decisions. Understand how that works for you
  • Safety - we all work togeher towards common goals. Everyone has a voice and an input to (almost) every decision. This only works if we all feel able to talk openly. Safety is about ensuring a positive work envirnmnent that encourages open communication/li>
  • Flexible boundaries - we all have specialisms,but silos are counter-productive. "I did my bit" is not an agile view. We need to undertand each other and the contributions we make to the overall goal
  • Day-to-day activities - simple checklist of what can be expected from you day-to-day as an agile team member
  • Role-specific changes - if you are used to a 'tradtional' role then agility changes the way you work. Your skills and experience are still relevant, but the way they are applied changes in an agile context
For a team

Agile is about teams, but not silos. We work together to deliver shared objectives. We are all responsible for making the team work, but some people need to be more proactive in achieving this than others.

Working in an agile team involves a distinct set of skills and attitudes which are discussed here

  • Participation - agile is a very democratic process. Ensuring everyone has a voice, feels able to participate and feels valued is essential.Changking the behaviour od traditionally dominant participants (e.g. managers) is also essential
  • Team and teams - what is a team and what does it do? Who does what within the team? How does the team retain identity and work with other teams?
  • Planning - what does planning mean for a team? Includes work requests, triage, prioritisation and ways to share and agree plans on a group basis
  • Progress - What does the team need to know about how they are progressing towards agreed goals? What metrics are useful to them and how do they use them to continuously improve?
  • Meetings - sounds trivial, but getting concise, short and focussed meetings can add lots of value and free up lots of time for other things. This is probably the easiest way to start benefitting from agile
  • Development - teams do not happen by throwing people together and calling them a team. They have to develop and mature. All teams do this, but there are extra steps for an agile team to become truly effective
For an organisation

Large organisations have challenges around being agile which do not exist for smaller teams. There are many aspects of organisation, structure, expectations and transformation which need to considered in a larger organisation. We explore them here

  • The big picture - Agile is for everyone.It is not an "us and them" thing. Agile teams in an unagile organisation will not deliver the value that they should. This article discusses what it means to be an agile organisation (as opposed to an organisation with agile teams in it)
  • Planning and progress - planning and progress tracking at an organisational level is very different from the detailed levels of people developing and delivering solutions. Agile helps us base this on real data and accurate information, with concomitant improvements in decision making and efficiency
  • Devolving decisions and responsibility - a hard thing for tradtional hierarchical organisations to achieve. This article explains why it valuable and how to go about achieving it
  • Managing dependencies - as soon as you have a large pro ject - with multiple teams and often external contractors and suppliers, then delivering work has dependencies. Teans need to be aware of this and flag them up as issues, but it requires more senior levels of management to deal with any problems that arise at this level
  • Managing risks - creating a table of risks and reviewing it frequently is a common approach. In agile we do it better. We relate the risks more closely to the work that is being done to mitigate them and maintain up-to-date information on their status
  • Scaling up - how to learn from teams and become an agile organisation at every level
  • Evolving Agile - an organisation does not become agile overnight - it is a continous process of transformation. This article explains the ways to move towards a more agile way of working