I first learned the terms Agile and Scrum when I joined my current employer Excella Consulting in 2010, so I guess I was late to the game. Up to that point in my career (10 years) I had just sort of winged the usual cycle of gather requirements, work with the developers to build something, test, show the customer, repeat. But me and my team were very successful at delivering software…quickly…that the customer loved. How? We didn’t use the Scrum methodology. We weren’t Agile.

I remember when I first read the Agile Manifesto and its associated principles back in 2010, I thought to myself “self…you already work that way and you hadn’t even heard of the term Agile. The team that I worked with for the previous six years also worked that way.” But we weren’t Agile…

Individuals and interactions over processes and tools
Working software over comprehensive documentation
Customer collaboration over contract negotiation
Responding to change over following a plan

Thinking back to the time I spent working with the small team of Margaret, Bob, Mike, Mike, Karl, and Darlene…I’ve come to the conclusion that those six years (and those people) taught me more about being Agile than any CSM, CSPO, or PMI-ACP certification ever could. It even taught me more about being Agile than 2 years working on a Scrum team after I joined Excella. But how? We weren’t Agile.

The truth is that we were Agile we just didn’t call ourselves Agile. The truth is though we weren’t Agile. We were being Agile.

Over the past four years, I’ve learned that being Agile isn’t about being a CSM, or CSPO, or even a hater of PMPs and traditional waterfall development. It’s about working on a small team that communicates exceptionally well with each other and the customer and delivers great software quickly. It’s about a team that respects each other and has leaders that embody the ideals of servant leadership (although in my case those leaders would tell you they hadn’t heard of the term servant leadership in the Agile context. They are just exceptional managers and people). It’s about a team that develops strong professional relationships with their customers and works hard to deliver value to them. It’s about a team that listens to what the customer wants and makes it happen even late in the game. That to me is being Agile. That to me is what is important.