Posted on: 3/20/2023

Agile or agile?

How to apply the right principles to benefit your teams


“We want agile” … well who doesn’t? Agility is surely only a good thing in this ever-changing world and our fast-moving, dynamic industries?

But do you want to do Agile, or be agile?

One is a trait, and one is a method. And outside of technology, they are often confused.

Agile (with a capital A):  Initially a method for product development; peppered with terms such as “scrum” and “sprint” and seen by many innovators as the only way to be ahead of the game and truly future-ready.

agile (lower case a):  a trait; the ability to move, think, and understand quickly.


Finding the middle ground

The middle ground between Agile and agile is where the magic can happen for many companies without having to turn a whole organisation upside down and introduce vastly different working practices. Agile purists will say that the Agile methodology should run through a whole company for true benefit. But others disagree. I’m in that camp.

There are 12 principles behind the Agile manifesto. They are widely available online, and, to be honest, you would be hard-pressed not to want to adopt most of them in some way, shape, or form into your working principles.

But four of the principles have always struck me as hyper-effective and relevant outside of a formal Agile environment. They represent an excellent foundation to sow the seeds of agility through your organization:

  1. Our highest priority is to satisfy the customer.
  2. We build projects around motivated individuals and give them the environment and support they need and trust them to get the job done.
  3. At regular intervals, our team reflects on how to become more effective, then tunes and adjusts our behaviour accordingly.
  4. Simplicity is the art of maximising the work not done. i.e., To make your processes more agile – do less. What can you take out and still get the same result?


In summary –

So to summarize: Be hyper customer-focused. Have project teams that are supported and trusted.

Allow the team to own their performance, reflect, and adjust behaviour. Focus on simplifying your processes.

It will take time to embed the right behaviours and mindsets across your organisation. But by applying some Agile principles particularly into your project teams and/or cross-functional teams, this approach will start to weave itself through your organisation’s DNA.

So, when thinking Agile, don’t get hung up on scrums and sprints. Think about the principles that can help you achieve the best results in your teams and for your organisation. Apply them to your projects, embed behaviours that support agility, and watch your team think, understand, and act quicker than ever before


Helen Soulsby

Managing Director, Global Talent Consulting