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The Secret History of Agile Methodology

First of all, Agile is not a methodology. It is nothing but 4 values and 12 principles that bring in a lot of discipline in software product development.

As an incremental model, Agile has proven to be highly productive. Implemented by IT and corporate companies alike, the Agile methodology has been a game changer in transforming the way modern-day business projects work. 

While the waterfall methodology was linear, it has its limitations, as the method does not allow changes along the way. The Waterfall method aims at bringing the finished product to the market. The developers would take years to work on the finished product, meanwhile, the market requirements would change. This caused a discrepancy in the final product being delivered and the nature of the market requirements. 

Due to this limitation, there was a need to bring agility to software development. Agile came into the picture.

Agile values and principles were introduced in 2001 making room for improved collaboration, flexibility, and planned execution in an iterative way. These aspects ensure that the deliverables are meeting the client’s requirements and check all the quality parameters.

In this article, we will look into the history of Agile, understand how it came into the mainstream, to understand the prospect it holds for the future. To understand the history of Agile project management, it is important to understand how it came into origin.


History of Agile

The birth of ‘The Agile Manifesto’: Agile comes into the picture 

As the conventional methods were proving to be challenging with their drawbacks and inability to meet the changing demands of the market, software developers were continuously looking for better ways to introduce a seamless method of operation. 

In the spring of 2001’, an exclusive group of seventeen software developers met in Oregon to discuss inventive methods that could speed up the development process, without compromising the quality of the final deliverables. They came up with what is popularly known as ‘The Agile Manifesto’. 

Among the group of seventeen developers, there was Martin Fowler, Ken Schwaber, Jim Highsmith, Bob Martin, and John Kern. The Agile Manifesto changed the history of Agile, bringing 4 values and 12 principles that became the rulebook for software developers. 

The Agile Manifesto aims at two chief objectives, based on which the principles and values have been laid out. These are:

  • Shortening the project lifecycle to meet the market requirements and improvise effectively.
  • Make room for customer collaboration, encourage feedback and continuously work on improvements. 

The Agile Manifesto revolved primarily around these two objectives. Now we will look into the principles and values in ‘The Agile Manifesto’ which lays the foundation of the Agile methodology.

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Four Key Values in The Agile Manifesto

  1. (Prioritising) individuals and interaction over processes and tools. 
  2. (Prioritising) comprehensive documentation over working software.
  3. (Giving priority to) customer collaboration over document negotiation.
  4. (Quickly) respond to change over following a thorough plan.

12 Principles in the Agile Manifesto

To make the agenda behind the Agile Manifesto crystal clear, the developers put forward twelve principles, to solidify the Agile mission and vision. Let’s understand these principles:

  1. Focusing on customer satisfaction through early and continuous delivery of valuable software. 
  2. Positive approach towards changing requirements during the lifecycle of the project, taking feedback seriously and working on them.
  3. Working on a timeline and delivering the product more frequently within a short timeframe, with a preference for a shorter timescale.
  4. Continuous collaboration between customers, users, and developers throughout the product development.
  5. Have an agile team where each individual is motivated and adopts the Agile mindset and provides support towards the implementation of the methodology. 
  6. Face-to-face conversation through daily stand-ups and decision-making meetings to work on feedback and improvisations. Continuous Collaboration is one of the key components for all Agile teams.
  7. Working software is considered the primary pointer to success. 
  8. Sustainable development of Agile processes. The team and stakeholders should continuously maintain a constant pace with which they are able to predictably and incrementally build and release the product.
  9. Continuous attention to technical excellence delivering high-quality products through engineering practices like extreme programming, pair programming, test-driven development, and behavior-driven development. Also, focusing on continuous design in every iteration or sprint by teams will enable higher technical excellence.
  10. Agile teams can focus on the next valuable thing to do, instead of simultaneously working on all areas. This keeps the agile approach simple and provides maximized value. Limiting Work In Progress will enable delivering high-priority features incrementally.
  11. Having self-organizing teams for higher productivity. In Agile, the work is divided into smaller sections and team members divide amongst themselves ingeniously, to foster productivity and enable each individual to play a crucial role in the project. The team estimates, plans, commits, executes, and delivers. They drive themselves towards self-organization.
  12. Consistent retrospection to understand what’s good and what’s not good in terms of people and processes is key to continuous improvement.

With the introduction of these principles, various companies started adopting Agile values and principles, and the approach has had high success since then. Between 2012-2015 Agile witnessed an adoption rate of 50%, taking the world by storm. In 2022, 90% of the organization are following Agile through various frameworks like Scrum.

To conclude, since the origin of Agile, Agile has continued to have high success rates as compared to the Waterfall method. With most companies adopting an Agile way of working, business operations have met with higher productivity, predictability, quality, accountability, and feedback, scaling growth and success spectacularly. 


  1. Who invented the Agile methodology?

    In the spring of February 2001, a group of 17 software developers came together to lay down Agile, consisting of four values and twelve principles.

  2. When was Agile created?

    Agile was created in February 2001.

  3. Why was Agile introduced?

    Agile was introduced as an improvement upon the previous conventional methods of project management. It was introduced to have an incremental approach toward the execution of a project.

  4. How old is Agile?

    Since its inception in 2001, Agile is 22 years old.

  5. Is Agile flexible?

    As the Agile approach makes room for constant collaboration and speculation of the deliverable, there is enough flexibility to meet the changing requirements and work on the feedback.