Agile is not an approach; it’s a mindset

The Sea Dragons team at Big Sea just finished a website design project with one of the original authors of the Agile manifesto, Alistair Cockburn.

We’ve had a difficult time approaching traditional marketing-oriented websites from an Agile perspective. We just couldn’t get the iterations and sprints to line up with the very waterfall-esque nature of what needed to be accomplished – especially not in an agency where we’re working on multiple projects simultaneously. So we planned it as best we could, forcing our own approach into a sprint-planning structure.

We had all of the decorations of Agile, but none of the heart.

Alistair “guerilla-consulted” with us during his project (he doesn’t know, but we were incredibly excited about his taking this!). Granted, he was probably more involved and collaborative than any of our usual clients would ever want to be, which changes everything in the development and delivery of the project, but the takeaways are immeasurable. He really taught us to embrace the mindset, and worry less about the methods.

The name of his organization is appropriately called, “The Heart of Agile“– and that’s what it is.

The Agile manifesto, and all of the processes, methods and ceremonies that have been developed as devices of implementation, really come down to four basic tenets:  Collaborate, Deliver, Reflect, and Improve.  As long as we, as an organization and as marketers, are using those four pillars of agility, the processes along the way can stretch and change.  (And of course, Alistair expands on those four elements in some creative and interesting ways, too.)

In the end, the website we delivered looks much like any other simple WordPress website we might produce. Sure, we’ll keep adding to it and improving it as time permits.

But the mindset that produced this website is new for us, and something that will change how we approach every new project in the future. We are reminded to find the heart of Agile whenever we get too mired in the how of Agile.