"Is agile only for software developers" + 7 answers of our Agile Coaches #AgileSeven

We asked our Agile Coaches:

"Is agile only for software developers?"

And they answered:


No! Agile is for every domain that faces uncertainty and complexity. Software development is a perfect example here, but definitely not the only one. Whenever we can apply to inspect & adapt to incrementally move in the right direction, agile is our friend.


No! I still get asked this question, and the answer stays the same. The agile movement grew a lot in the software industry, but this is just one area.
Wherever you face uncertainty, agile might help. It is about the idea that you might not get it perfect on your first attempt you want to learn and improve. The methods have been adapted to different domains. Finance, marketing, sales, you name it. Even hardware development.


The Agile Manifesto was written by experienced software developers in 2001. Scrum was created by software developers. It is much easier for the software industry to be agile than for the hardware industry, but it is possible. 3D printing technologies, for example, help a lot to prototype the next increment with low costs. They share also the same customer needs: deliver great products to the customers. So the answer is: No. Agile is not only for software development.


Agile should be suitable also for non-software products that have the potential to be developed and delivered increment by increment, in iterations, so that the product can be adjusted often while "shooting" towards a moving market target. In other words, while the scope will most likely be variable, time and money remain fixed. The iterative approach will also empower improving the process continuously, and after all, this idea of kaizen derives from another industry, the automotive industry, anyway.


No, Agile isn’t limited to software projects or developers. Any individual, team, and organisation that is faced with the challenge of solving complex problems can benefit from working in an agile manner. It helps you to work towards a solution iteratively and thus allows you to constantly react to incoming changes and new circumstances. However, it isn’t a magic one-for-all solution either: If the problem at hand isn’t really complex and the solution approach is already rather clear, agility may be an unnecessary overhead.


No, agile frameworks mainly make sense when looking at complex challenges and problems. So it is even not limited to the software development industry. To be successful with our products we need to check our market around. What do the customers, and users request and need? In a complex environment, there are a lot of risks, uncertainties, and unknowns. This is why it makes sense to iteratively plan, do, reflect, and adapt in short feedback cycles to get closer to your product vision and customer needs. This is the point when agile makes sense.


While the original intention was software development, it has spread and applied to many projects and processes. Many workflows that are in complicated and complex environments with shifting requirements and shifting technologies (methodologies) can take advantage of the Agile mindset, try and apply one of the many frameworks to their projects or work to see if it helps. HR is one of the first places where I have seen it work - introducing workflow boards and Daily meetings that appear in many Agile frameworks has improved their communication, their effectiveness as well as transparency that the department was thankful for. They continue to use it to this day. I hope to apply it myself to other non-IT-related areas to see how it can also work outside the industry it was originally intended for.

About #AgileSeven: We ask every month our Agile Coaches and will publish on the 7th of each month their answers. Why 7? It is a magic number.