We all want to get the best results, but exactly how we get to that peak performance is far from formulaic. There’s no one way to find success and, arguably, there’s no perfectly well-defined way at all. However, there are certain things that have been shown to help us have the best shot and the best luck in achieving these goals. These are things that literally “set us up for success,” and we call them best practices. Of course, best practices depend on what you’re trying to achieve and where you’re trying to achieve it. They’re highly contextual, but are usually time tested and hold the support of the respective community. But if there’s no formula, then what even are “best practices” in the first place? This is where we can draw a close relationship with Agile Methodology.
What is Agile Methodology?
Agile Methodology is a workflow philosophy that comes from the Agile Manifesto, a set of values meant to optimize software development in complex and dynamic contexts. More broadly, though, agile methodology can be applied to improve and modernize the workflow in any dynamic setting, especially when collaboration is essential.
At its core, agile is about being clever and quick on your feet. It’s about investing and trusting in an excellent team that knows how to be flexible, when necessary, in order to deliver when it counts. Agile methodology puts a strong emphasis on responding to change over following a plan, and on valuing individuals and interactions over processes and tools. No amount of research and market analysis will be able to perfectly predict tomorrow’s environment, and almost no amount of software and hardware investment will be able to compensate for extreme shifts in uncontrollable factors like the supply chain. The key to pushing past these extreme challenges, then, is making sure your team is able to think and pivot at a moment’s notice—the key is agility.
Agility and Best Practices
Thinking back to how we defined best practices, the relationship should start to be more recognizable. At any given point, best practices might seem like specific steps or formulas. However, these are almost certainly subject to change, and are likely to change quite often at that. This is because a “best practice” might be a collectively recognized optimal strategy during a certain point in time for a certain industry and climate. Once these conditions shift, so should the best practice.
This framing of agility through best practices also helps us see how agile methodology naturally finds itself embedded in our most successful strategies and choices, regardless of the industry and regardless of our goals. Best practices show us that the agile manifesto gives us values to follow in much more than just software development, but in any complex situation where the path to success is contextual. Save for chutes-and-ladders-type situations—where the outcomes are entirely out of your hands—agility is what moves us forward. How has agility manifested as best practices in your experience?
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