What is Agile Methodology and Its Game Changing Promise for the Digital Age
Introduction to the Agile Methodology
These days, there’s much buzz around what is known as Agile Method of Working or the Agile Methodology as applied to all types of organizational processes and modes of working. While initially, Agile was introduced for the Software and Technology Development and Release cycles, it has now become a method that encompasses just about everything and anything that Corporates and Organizations do in their everyday routines. So, what exactly is Agile and why it can become a game changer for the Digital Age?
How Agile Works in the Tech World
To start with, as corporates and for that matter any organization entered the digital age, it was imperative that they were quick to respond to the ever changing demands of the present age where they had to be agile (hence the name for this methodology) to react and act to situations and events happening at real time pace.
For instance, let us take the case of Software Development and Deployment. Hitherto, firms such as Microsoft had the luxury of having an extended Software Development, Testing, and Release and Deployment phases proceeding in a linear manner.
In other words, developers could develop, testers could test, and support personnel could likewise attend to fixes and bugs one after the other. This worked fine for many decades with the result that the Waterfall Model of SDLC or Software Development Lifecycle became hugely popular.
However, as the acceleration of work and life began with the emergence of the Digital or the Fourth Industrial Revolution, corporates realized that they could no longer work in a linear manner where each stage was well defined and each phase was delineated.
Enter the Agile Methodology where there are no distinctions between phases or stages and everything happens at once and with everyone being involved not only in parallel manner but also in flexible and collapsing manner.
In other words, there are no boundaries between developers, testers, and support personnel and all the designated staff for the project are expected to wear “All Hats” wherever and whenever possible.
Thus, there can be a release of the software happening at the same time that the development of the software is going on. Further, the support personnel can very well detect and fix bugs on their own and the testers can also develop code on the go.
In a way, Agile represents the “On Demand” model of working where real time processing happens to each new fix or request.
Real World Examples of how Agile is Transforming Digital Age Firms
Now that we have defined how Agile Methodology works, let us look at how it can help firms such as Google and Netflix.
To start with, given the fact that Netflix has to respond to thousands and potentially more than that number of releases and requests each month or even day, there needs to be a mode of working that enables it to react to fluid requests, act on feedback, preempt any bugs from cropping up, and most importantly, do all this in real time.
Indeed, given the fact that Digital Age firms live and work on a 24/7 every time and anytime as well as everywhere and anywhere and anyone and everyone basis, Agile offers them the much needed flexibility and convenience in addition to ease of working that other such methodologies could not do.
Moreover, Agile Methods of Working fit nicely into the concept of symbiotic and systemic interactional model that Digital Age firms need to adapt.
To explain, firms such as Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Google, and even Microsoft are in a state of continuous interaction with their external environments and they receive feedback and send their responses in a symbiotic manner.
Thus, Agile offers such firms the chance to master their external environment by changing their internal modes of working so that both are in sync with each other. In short, this is the reason why Agile has taken the world by storm.
Agile is Not Only a Process Transformation, but, Also a Mindset Change
Though we have discussed the example of Tech firms, any look at recent developments in the Agile World and any casual browsing of Management Journals and Business Websites reveal that Agile is not only about processes but also about mindsets.
Indeed, this is the reason why many experts are now proclaiming that Agile represents an entirely new mindset and one which is well suited for the Digital Age.
All the articles and the case studies that we reviewed indicate that Agile Methodology has the “stickiness factor” or the ability to hold its ground despite other methodologies trying to replace it.
Some Challenges in Embracing the Agile Methodology
Having said that, one must also not be carried away by Agile and its upsides. While it can be a game changer for the Digital Generations, older employees might just “scratch their heads” at all the new terminology being thrown at them.
Moreover, in our interactions with Industry Veterans, they frequently mention how in their times, concepts such as JIT or Just in Time and Kanban similarly transformed how they worked. Thus, the real challenge for organizations and business leaders is to ensure that Agile becomes not only a process but also a mindset and train all the staff accordingly.
When boundaries disappear, things might seem chaotic for external observers, but, Agile represents the motto of “Order from Chaos” and “Spontaneity from Randomness” that the present Digital Age is all about.
To conclude, this brief overview was meant to introduce you to the new paradigm and how it is transforming the way corporates work in the Digital Age.
Authorship/Referencing - About the Author(s)
The article is Written By “Prachi Juneja” and Reviewed By Management Study Guide Content Team. MSG Content Team comprises experienced Faculty Member, Professionals and Subject Matter Experts. We are a ISO 2001:2015 Certified Education Provider. To Know more, click on About Us. The use of this material is free for learning and education purpose. Please reference authorship of content used, including link(s) to ManagementStudyGuide.com and the content page url.
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