What is an Agile Environment? Definition & Examples
The widespread adoption of the agile methodology beyond software development is a result of its key agile benefits.
Agile projects record higher success rates than traditional project management processes because of their willingness to embrace change and flexibility.
The agile methodology maximizes value, optimizes resources, and completes project deliverables on time. Following the core values and key principles of the agile manifesto is essential for the success of an agile project.
In addition to following the agile manifesto, agile organizations lay a solid foundation where innovation, adaptability, and flexibility can flourish.
This article teaches you all you need to know about what an agile environment is and how it can be used.
Let’s get started.
What is an Agile Environment?
An agile environment is where any organization or business corporation uses the agile project management methodology to carry out its basic operations.
In an agile environment, the use of the agile methodology and values and principles is encouraged by respective project teams for all their project tasks.
What Are The Four Pillars Of Agile?
Here are the four pillars that support an agile environment:
- Individuals and interactions over processes and tools
- Working software over comprehensive documentation
- Customer collaboration over contract negotiation
- Responding to change over following a plan
Every agile environment is built upon these four fundamental pillars, and it is these that guide the agile processes and practices to build a sustainable company culture.
According to the Project Management Institute (PMI), an agile environment has seven elements evident in every company that adopts it to their organizational structure run on different agile frameworks to their already determined agile practices.
These companies with an agile environment accept and promote change and innovation and usher creativity and improvement into the project development lifecycle.
They adopt a collaborative leadership style, focus on features over systems and people over process, and adopt an interactive process for product development.
Customers find companies adopting the agile methodology more responsive to product development requests.
The 6 Characteristics of Agile Environment
Every agile environment has its set of unique attributes that distinguish it from any other unique and routine work environment. An agile environment operates on predetermined agile values.
Here are some of the notable characteristics of an agile environment.
1. Focus on Customer
The agile methodology is built on customer satisfaction as all agile techniques are geared to focus on customer needs.
The customer's needs are prioritized in an agile environment and are evident in how agile teams deliver incremental value to their customers.
Agile environments allow stakeholder feedback loops to be incorporated at every stage of the organization’s documented processes to guarantee maximum customer satisfaction.
Your teams work towards meeting project requirements and satisfying customers through quick and early deliveries.
2. Embracing Change
At the core of the agile methodology is the need for change to be incorporated into an organization's structure.
Irrespective of the development cycle stage that agile teams find themselves in, they must adapt to accommodate these changes if there is a determined and more effective way of carrying out tasks.
3. Providing Room for Innovation
An agile environment encourages agile teams to collaborate closely and develop innovative ideas to solve the fundamental problems that hinder them from functioning and delivering on set goals.
Setting up an agile environment ultimately leads to better ideas in delivering innovative products and services to take the market by storm. Ensure your team has the agile mindset to help meet dynamic customer needs.
4. Focus on Process Improvement
Agile methodologies are best suited for projects focused on delivering the highest quality output results to their customers.
By providing room for teams to reflect and adapt to necessary changes after each iteration cycle, the agile technique helps project teams improve their processes.
5. Working in Iterations
The iterative approach that characterizes agile environments focuses on delivering incremental value throughout the project lifecycle. Dividing large projects into smaller ones makes it easy for your project team to complete them on time.
As opposed to the traditional method of delivering value at once at the end of the project cycle, the agile approach has proven to be more effective and more attainable due to its flexibility.
With the 2-week cycles for each iterative process, organizations get steady results from their teams as there is a value release at the end of each cycle.
A thriving agile environment is one where all members of the agile teams collaborate to achieve a common shared goal.
By leveraging shared responsibilities and accountability, teams are better positioned to deliver products and services of the highest possible quality and standard.
Effective collaboration ensures the team is closely aligned and positioned to deliver on their shared objectives and goals.
Agile Environment Examples
You can visibly notice agile environments across all facets and segments of industries as it offers more effective ways of carrying out assigned tasks under evolving circumstances.
Taking Google, for example, this industry tech giant has successfully adopted and corporated the agile environment framework into its operations.
Google's Mountain View office is one of the notable mentions as it houses flexible and highly collaborative office space for cross-functional teams.
With fewer spaces allocated to each team member and more spaces designed for collective teams as an agile work environment, Google teams now have a more flexible and executive workspace that breeds innovation to boost productivity.
Communal Tables and Project Rooms
Another example of an effective agile environment structure is in the use of communal tables and project rooms.
Communal tables help encourage stand-up meetings in open spaces, while project rooms provide tools to aid group workshops. These two agile environments offer teams a platform to brainstorm and develop innovative ideas.
Organizations are keying into providing team members with a creative and collaborative work environment to carry out their tasks in today's world.
Facebook, LinkedIn, Airbnb, and Salesforce are among several organizations that now run on the agile methods.
How to Create an Agile Physical Environment
Creating an agile environment for the organization requires a series of well-planned steps.
An agile physical environment offers a conducive environment that provides the appropriate physical infrastructure and tools for an organization's workforce. There are four steps to creating an agile physical environment for the organization:
1. Collocating the Team
A collocated team capable of holding face-to-face conversations is better suited to collaborate better.
The main advantage of collocating the project team is that confining them in the same physical space opens them up to communicate better, building the needed trust and transparency.
With no hierarchy structure in the workspace, the team is better motivated to collaborate easier. Most organizations are now functioning with teams spread across various geographical locations.
Project managers should not interfere unnecessarily with the project team and let the team figure out the best way to deliver the project. Product owners are responsible for creating user stories.
Your daily scrum meetings and sprint review should involve the active participation of the scrum master, product owner, developers, customers, and the scrum team.
Online collaboration tools like Trello and Asana can come in handy to foster communication and keep teams on the same page, irrespective of where they find themselves.
2. Set Up a Dedicated Physical Space
Assembling the teams in the exact location without providing them with a physical space to work independently and near one another is not enough.
Setting up a physical space for the teams to work together can go a long way in boosting the productivity of both the teams and the organization.
The dedicated physical space does not need to be very complex and expensive, as a room with whiteboards, conference tables, and pin-up boards can be a good location for the job.
3. Minimize Distractions
The agile physical space needs to be designed and structured with minimal distractions and interference from both internal and external factors. Interference from management and consulting on other projects are among notable distractions to look out for.
If not correctly tracked and managed, these distractions tend to throw the scrum team off their laid-out path, thereby impeding their progress. A scrum master is responsible for minimizing or eliminating these distractions.
Here are some of the most effective ways of minimizing or eliminating the plague called a distraction from the organization's process.
- Refrain from multitasking
- Focus the attention and resolve to deliver one goal at a time
- Block out both internal and external distractions
Distractions divert the team's focus and drain them of their energy and morale, resulting in wasted time, energy, and effort.
4. Equip the Team with the Right Tools
Equipping the agile team with practical agile project management tools to complement their efforts further can improve the team's productivity and position them to deliver on their set goals and objectives.
Project management tools help project managers, software developers, and other agile team members to stay on track with their schedules, budget, and resource requirements.
Here are some unique project management tools to consider as a project manager for self-organizing teams to provide agile work environments for better collaboration.
With the help of these project management tools, the teams are better poised to succeed in the right agile work environment.
An agile scrum environment is where a company or business corporation applies the agile scrum project management methodology to execute its basic operations effectively.
The manager can create an agile environment by designing the workplace for certain types of work, properly educating employees, encouraging employees to work as a team, and strategically recruiting new employees to champion agile office layout principles.