How to regain the art of agile

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How to regain the art of agile

The word agile has been hijacked. Reclaim its meaning and reap the rewards, writes Jerry Stubbs.

Your thesaurus isn’t faulty: agile is not a synonym for efficient. Fifteen years ago, agile was the word that summed up a revolution. It marked an end to the IT crowd’s old ways, where software guys did stuff other people didn’t understand and their clients just had to wait for it to work.

Agile disrupted an entire industry by urging everybody concerned to take a more progressive, collaborative and transparent approach with their colleagues and clients. Suddenly software development was about partnership – not “us and them”.

Fast-forward to the present day and the term agile has been hijacked. It is often wrongly used to mean any product or business process that is more efficient, or just better, than the last project or product: “Check out the more agile version of GoogleMaps.”
In fact, Google’s development of its maps app isn’t much to do with agile. The update is just superior. Big difference.

The trouble with misusing language is that you lose meanings. Lose meanings, lose clarity. Lose clarity, lose focus. So muddy has the meaning of agile become that many senior decision-makers no longer have much idea what agile is and how it – in its proper form – can benefit their company. The loss is felt by both supplier and client.

The industry needs to reclaim the word agile – and fast. And it needs to start spreading the true word to its clients. Newcomers to the sector should read up on the Agile Manifesto – a bible for millennial IT professionals wary of alienating their own clients from software development.
The manifesto is perceived as being covered in virtual dust: a tome no longer fit for an age in which few can find time to talk. But like so many ageing key texts, business rejects it at its peril.



Agile (ágil, flexible) = a) able to move quickly and easily; b) quick, smart, and clever.

Summed up (resumido) = past tense of sum up – to describe (someone or something) using few words.

Disrupted (interrumpir, afectar) = past tense of  disrupt – a) to cause (something) to be unable to continue in the normal way; b) to interrupt the normal progress or activity of (something).

Urging (urgir, instar, rogar) = the act of trying to persuade someone in a serious way to do something.

Partnership (colaboración, asociación) = a relationship between partners.

Fast-forward (adelantar) = (verb) to move forward through time quickly.

Hijacked (desviar, interceptar, robar)= past tense of hijack – to take or take control of (something) for your own purposes.

Update (actualizar) = to change (something) by including the most recent information.

Misusing (usar incorrectamente, abusar) = to use (something) incorrectly.

Muddy (turbio, poco claro, confuse) = not clear or bright: dull or cloudy.

Reclaim (recuperar, reciclar) = to get back (something that was lost or taken away).

Spreading (extender, propagar, difundir)= to cause (something) to become known by many people.

Newcomers (recién llegado) = a person who has recently arrived somewhere or who has recently started a new activity — often + to

Wary of = often + of

Dust (polvo) = fine powder made from a particular substance.

Peril (peligro, riesgo) = used to say that if you do something you should be aware that it is dangerous and that you could be harmed, injured, punished, etc.

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