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In today’s world of work, we commonly hear the phrases agile, agility, agile transformation thrown about in different meetings in different contexts.

I have been in some of those meetings, looking back now, I wonder if all the participants actually knew what they meant when they used these words.

Some of those meetings seemed to suggest Agile as the result of flicking a switch, as a destination, as a Position to be arrived at.

Does this sound familiar to you? Have you in your dealing with and around the word agile also viewed it as a static target? have you viewed it as something around the corner?

What was your experience? did you hit it? what did hitting it look like?

So let us examine this word, what in the world is Agile?

To many people Agile means a bunch of stickies and sharpies. To some it means having a digital/online tools like atlassian jira, azure devops, target process and the likes. But this is not way being agile.

This leads me to another misconception. I have heard people say they are doing Agile. We will address this as we go along.

Where was I? Yes, tools don’t mean one is Agile for tools are just what they are, tools.

So what is Agile? What does it mean to be Agile?

I recently watched a video where Dr. Alistair Cockburn (one of the original signatories to the Agile Manifesto) spoke regarding Agile.

In this video Alistair made somethings quite clear about what all this Agile talk actually refers to:

He spoke on what he called the Heart of Agile which he broke down into 4 major things/steps.


Sounds really simple doesn’t it, but let us take a step back and think about it.

Is there any framework under the agile umbrella void of these steps?

Let us take a look at scrum:

The self organising/self managing and cross-functional group of people who use their expertise to do the work, the means by which they do the work is by collaboration, they plan to deliver a useable, valuable increment that meets the definition of done at least every sprint, the last event in the sprint is the sprint retrospective where the team inspect and adapt (reflect) their process of work and potentially identify ways to improve. Not to forget the sprint review where the scrum team in collaboration with the stakeholders inspect the increment and adapt the product backlog.

What am I trying to say here?

If you want to trust know what but means to be agile…

Here we go:


These 4 steps are at the heart of agility, the very core.

This is what it means to be Agile.

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