Why agile?

What is agile anyway? There are many definitions around the internet related to what is agile. For me agile is professional development, expertise, customer value, innovation, culture and mindset. During the Greece Agile Summit in Athens, on September 2017, I met Uncle Bob (Robert C. Martin) the co-author of the Agile manifesto and he said the following thing "Agile was introduced by a group of Developers and on the way, business people got involved and took over and developers left".

I can't say that i disagree with that statement but I would like to ask the following. Since agile manifesto with all the various methodologies is so focused on maximizing the customer value and early delivery why not implementing it everywhere. Nowadays, customers want unique products, want to have them fast and fulfill their needs. Just remember how we used to work in the old times, the 90s. Contract based, all agreed upfront and meet again in 1 year to deliver (if we were lucky enough to deliver on time).

The question here is the following. Why agree everything upfront for 1 year's work, since we don't really know what will be the needs in 1 year. Many startups are so disruptive that change the world and the needs in days. Things change so fast, so everyone needs to adopt and respond to change. Start working on something today that the customer wants and maybe in 1 month will be obsolete already. For many reasons, but mainly because the customer has everything in his/her mind and does not have the ability to picture the end product, and when they see it, they realize that this is not what he/she wanted.

Work in small iterations, deliver more often, build the product with the customer. Allow the customer some time to experience the solution/product and provide feedback and adopt and respond to those feedback accordingly. This the agile way. Respond to the changes fast enough that will deliver fast enough the solution/product to the customer. And the example I always use explains best what I really mean.

If a customer wants us to build a car for him, and it will take 3 years to deliver, then do the following. In one month deliver him a skateboard as the main need is to move around, then a bicycle, then a bike, then a four wheel bike and then the car. With the old way, customer would have waited for 3 years to use the product. With the agile way, customer can use the product from the first month.

Konstantinos Kareklas, Agile Coach