agile,Business Transformation,Continuous Improvement

What is Agile Methodology? (Beginner’s Guide)

by Joe Aherne

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Project management is an art — it requires clear vision and creativity, meticulous planning, collaboration, and lots of flexibility. It’s also the cornerstone for achieving organizational goals. As a project grows in complexity and urgency, a responsive approach is vital. This is where Agile methodology comes in. This guide dives into all things Agile, from its principles and profound impact on projects to strategies for implementation in your own business or organization. 

Agile Methodology: Key Insights

  • The main characteristics of Agile methodology include adaptive planning, self-organizing teams, and customer-centricity.
  • Agile methodology in project management brings many benefits, including faster processes, continuous improvement, higher product quality, enhanced flexibility, collaboration, and customer satisfaction.
  • There are various frameworks and techniques under the Agile umbrella that you can use to achieve project success. These include Scrum, Kanban, Lean, and Extreme Programming (XP).
A circular hologram with "Agile" in the middle.

What is Agile Methodology?

Agile is a project management approach that values flexibility, collaboration, continuous improvement, and iterative progress. While it has roots in software development, this methodology extends to many diverse industries today. 

Project Increments

Unlike traditional rigid, linear models, Agile thrives on incremental development, encouraging teams to produce functional components in manageable segments. Projects are often broken down into phases: Planning, execution, and evaluation. This iterative process allows teams to come together to adapt and refine as needed, ensuring the end product remains relevant and aligned with evolving needs.


At its core, Agile’s philosophy is people-focused—those who comprise the project team and the stakeholders who drive the purpose (e.g., customers). Self-organized small teams are fundamental for fostering transparent communication and close collaboration.

Agile is not just one strategy or mindset; It encompasses a group of methodologies, frameworks, and techniques, like Scrum, Kanban, Extreme Programming (XP) and more.

Where Did Agile Come From?

Agile dates back to the 1990s, when various software development frameworks began to increase in popularity, each with its own ideas. Overall, all of these ideas overlapped in some key areas:

  • Early and frequent delivery of value
  • Small, self-organizing teams
  • Innovative ways to create, test, and deploy code
  • Strong collaboration between the project team and the customers.

Agile ultimately emerged as a response to the limitations of traditional project management approaches that struggled to cope with the business environment’s rapidly changing and unpredictable nature.

The official birthdate of the term “Agile” is February 2001, when a group of 17 visionaries, proponents of that innovative framework, met in Snowbird, Utah, and laid the foundations of this movement. Their legacy is a document called the “Manifesto for Agile Software Development,” which outlines four values and twelve principles.

4 Core Values of Agile

The four core values articulated in the Agile Manifesto include the following:

  1. Individuals and Interactions over Processes and Tools: This emphasizes the importance of people within the project ecosystem. Agile recognizes that successful projects thrive on effective communication, collaboration, and the collective expertise of team members. 
  2. Working Solutions over Comprehensive Documentation: Agile challenges the traditional practices of exhaustive documentation. While documentation remains essential, Agile encourages a pragmatic approach that focuses on creating tangible, working solutions. This means that teams can swiftly address evolving requirements and adapt when necessary.
  3. Customer Collaboration over Contract Negotiation: Agile redefines the relationship between project teams and customers by advocating active collaboration over rigid contractual agreements. Involving customers throughout the project’s lifecycle ensures that the result aligns with their needs and expectations. This can be achieved through regular feedback loops.
  4. Responding to Change over Following a Plan: Change is inevitable in project development — and Agile embraces it. This core value emphasizes the importance of remaining flexible and responsive in the face of shifting requirements, market dynamics, and unexpected challenges.

12 Principles of Agile

Along with the four core values, Agile has 12 guiding principles that collectively shape its philosophy and practices. Keep in mind that while the Manifesto was created with software development in mind, its application can extend to different sectors.

  1. Customer Satisfaction through Early and Continuous Delivery: Agile promotes delivering value to customers quickly and consistently. By prioritizing early and continuous delivery of working solutions, Agile ensures that projects meet customer needs and promptly incorporate feedback.
  2. Embrace Changing Requirements: Change is a natural part of the project lifecycle. Flexibility allows teams to respond to evolving standards.
  3. Frequent Delivery of Working Software: Frequent incremental releases of functional software enable stakeholders to witness tangible progress and offer insights throughout the development journey.
  4. Collaborative Environment: Collaboration between cross-functional team members and customers is vital. These close interactions foster a shared understanding of goals, challenges, and solutions, ultimately driving project success.
  5. Supportive and Trusting Culture: Team members should feel motivated and empowered to take ownership, make decisions, and contribute to the project’s progress.
  6. Face-to-Face Communication: While digital tools are invaluable, Agile values direct, face-to-face interactions to promote clarity, reduce misunderstanding, and enhance problem-solving efficiency.
  7. Progress Measured through Working Software: Tangible progress is measured by functional software increments rather than extensive documentation. 
  8. Sustainable Development Pace: A sustainable work pace prevents burnout and ensures consistent progress over the project’s lifespan.
  9. Technical Excellence: Prioritizing technical excellence and sound design principles enhances a project’s quality, scalability and maintainability.
  10. Simplicity in Design: Agile advocates delivering essential features and minimizing unnecessary complexity, streamlining development and aligning with customer needs.
  11. Self-Organizing Teams: Project teams should be self-organizing and take accountability for their work.
  12. Regular Reflection and Adaptation: Agile thrives on introspection and adaptation. Regularly evaluating processes and outcomes allows teams to identify areas for improvement and make necessary adjustments, leading to continuous growth.

Agile Frameworks

Agile is an umbrella term for a set of frameworks, methodologies and practices that adhere to the values and principles from the Manifesto. Adopting them is considered as “Doing Agile.” The most prominent frameworks include:

  • Scrum: Employs fixed-duration iterations called sprints, during which a specific set of tasks is completed. Sprints often range from two to four weeks. Once the sprint is underway, the team can engage in daily stand-up meetings, which provide a platform for team members to share progress, discuss challenges, and align their efforts.
  • Kanban: With a focus on visualizing work and optimizing flow, Kanban is a flexible framework suitable for projects with variable demand. It offers real-time insights into work processes, allowing teams to identify bottlenecks and improve efficiency.
  • Lean: Emphasizes maximizing value while minimizing waste. Lean is applicable to various industries and encourages teams to eliminate non-essential tasks and streamline workflows.
  • Extreme Programming (XP): This framework is ideal for projects requiring rapid increments and continuous integration, like in software development. XP promotes practices such as test-driven development and frequent releases.

These Agile frameworks depart from traditional approaches by promoting adaptive planning, continuous feedback, collaboration and responsiveness — all essential qualities to meet the dynamic demands of modern projects.

Benefits of Agile

Agile’s popularity and prominence in project management is no coincidence; its adoption has many benefits that resonate with teams, stakeholders, and organizations alike:

  • Faster progress: An incremental approach coupled with real-time feedback reduces the time required to complete each stage. 
  • Increased customer satisfaction: Customer collaboration and involvement promotes satisfaction.
  • Continuous improvement and enhanced adaptability: Agile allows natural adaptations to meet changing requirements.
  • Increased product or service quality: Attention to detail, constant feedback loops, and iterative methods enhance the quality of the project at hand. 
  • Reduced risks: Teams that adopt transparency, collaboration, and quality control at each stage can mitigate challenges and risks more effectively. 
  • Improved employee morale: Agile teams are self-organized and self-managing for greater autonomy and authority over decisions.
Two people writing on a board practicing the collaborative principle of Agile.

Implementation of Agile

As mentioned, diverse industries adopt this methodology, including software development, marketing, event management, and product development. Regardless of the sector, teams can use iterations, frequent feedback loops, and collaboration with customers to find success in their projects. 

Generally, the steps that you can take to implement Agile in your organization include the following:

  1. Choose your Agile frameworks. This can include one or a combination of frameworks, depending on your team’s dynamics and the project’s nature.
  2. Assemble your Agile team. Form a cross-functional team with the skills necessary to execute the project. Empower team members to collaborate, take ownership, and contribute their expertise.
  3. Plan the project and its stages. Break down your project into interactions or sprints, outlining specific goals for each. Prioritize tasks with your team, allocate resources, and create a roadmap for the project’s evolution.
  4. Continuously monitor and measure success: Regular touchpoints, discussions, and feedback sessions are crucial. Monitor progress, evaluate outcomes, and adapt based on lessons learned from each iteration.

Stay Agile With Leading Edge Group

As Agile starts to cross into the mainstream, banks, telecom providers, energy companies and many other businesses from various sectors hope it may be the answer for these VUCA (volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity) times. 

If you’re ready to take on a transformative Agile journey in your organization, get in touch with us at Leading Edge Group. We offer Agile consulting services that provide the expertise and support you need to unlock full project management potential.


Joe Aherne Photo
Joe Aherne

CEO of Leading Edge Group

Joe qualified as a Certified Public Accountant in 1982. It was a decision that reaped great benefits for Joe, providing him with an international recognized qualification which allowed him to follow in his father and grandfathers’ footsteps who had both worked and lived abroad. Having qualified as a CPA, Joe took up financial positions in the Middle East and UK.

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