What is Agile?

2 Minutes

Agile is about thinking in layers and remaining flexible.

This is a culture, it is not fundamental to label the layers but it is key to allow each layer to inform the layers above, through learning, and below through direction.

Being “Agile” is not an excuse for short term thinking, you still need to have a shared vision and strategy to guide all of the activities below.

Being “Agile” does mean that every time you do a task you should reflect on the task, learn and adjust:

Did it successfully move you towards your goals?
Have you learnt something that might change your goals?


Layers increase in “resolution” but fundamentally have the same characteristics:

• What does a good outcome look like?
It must be possible to share, debate, discuss the outcome, the what not the how, so that everyone shares what good means for them

• How will we know it is good?
It needs to be agreed who defines whether “good” has been met, what is the measure, how will it be demonstrated

• When will it be achieved?
We are in business after all, time is a critical part of what “good” looks like

• Who is the owner?
Who decides “how”, who is responsible for making it transparent


Agility is the ability to set a vision with sufficient detail to drive strategy but accepting that it might change as we learn, as the strategy evolves. And so on through the layers.


Debt is the thing you CHOOSE to incur, for the benefit of the business, delaying actions now for later.