You can’t avoid the term “Agile” if you try. From CIO to HBR, some of management’s most influential websites are teaching readers how to build the basics. The BBC even called Agile “the new boardroom buzzword” earlier this year.
It’s true that Agile is getting more mainstream. Today’s digital projects move and change so quickly that businesses have no choice but to take the ride. But Agile is far from a new concept: project managers have used it for years.
The Agile methodology stems from software development. In February 2001, 17 developers met in Utah to find common ground in the ways they worked. They were using a wide range of software development methods, from Scrum and Extreme Programming to Adaptive Software and Feature-Driven Development.
This group called themselves the Agile Alliance and vowed to help developers work more efficiently via smaller, more frequent development cycles. But they also realized that their goal to help teams work more efficiently didn’t just apply to software.
The Agile Manifesto’s founders believed that this framework could help teams of all types who wanted to achieve more in less time. Sure enough, the rise of doing business online in subsequent years impacted project management.
Project teams became expected to do more than finish projects on time and under budget. Instead, they were expected to achieve these more quickly and contribute to business strategy. As a result, project managers needed new tools and methods to help their teams reach these goals.
Experts for Agile project managers
Agile has become more mainstream due in part to experts who freely share their insights. Many members of the first Agile Alliance actively blog and teach around the world. They also share expertise with the world on Twitter.
Whether you’re new to this space or an Agile veteran, these influencers are worth following. Name recognition wasn’t enough to earn a spot on this list. At GetApp, we wanted to honor Agile leaders who use their influence to educate the public. We also chose influencers who share how Agile is used in a wide range of ways, from project delivery to traditional management.
This list isn’t exhaustive, so make sure to share your favorite Agile influencers at the end. In the meantime, read on to see who made our list:
Belinda is an Agile business coach, author of Being Agile in Business, and a Computer Science graduate whose book was shortlisted as the CMI Management Book of the Year. She also appeared on GetApp’s list of top women in project management earlier this year.
Businesses across sectors such as tech, fashion, manufacturing, and marketing use Belinda’s “Being Agile” approach. She is also on the organizing committee for the award-winning conference www.AgileontheBeach.co.uk. Her Twitter account shares her experiences adopting Agile within and beyond the tech sector.
Eric Ries didn’t invent Agile, but he helped make it mainstream. He’s widely known for authoring The Lean Startup, a bestselling book and methodology for building new products. The Lean method aims to help anyone or any company launch new products faster.
It’s not Agile in itself; the Lean methodology helps followers define and build marketable products. That said, software developers can incorporate Agile into this process. Follow Eric on Twitter for a wide range of Agile tips and tech news.
If you’ve attended an Agile Alliance conference, you’ve learned from Esther Derby. She’s an original member of the Scrum Alliance and the AYE Conference.
Esther also served two terms on the Agile Alliance Board of Directors and co-authored two books on how to manage teams using Agile techniques. Her Twitter account offers bit-sized tips on team management through an Agile lens.
Agile is its own art form, and few understand this better than James Shore. He authored The Art of Agile Development to help teams achieve more within two-week Agile cycles of concept to delivery.
Agile management consultants, unite: Johanna Rothman offers a master class on this topic. She coaches teams on topics that range from project portfolio management to Agile program management.
Keep an eye out for Create Your Successful Agile Project: Collaborate, Measure, Estimate, Deliver. It’s Johanna’s latest book in a catalog that already spans eight titles. Follow her on Twitter for tips on how to define what it means to “scale” Agile, the difference between resource vs. flow efficiency, and how to create allies during Agile transformations.
Kent Beck was one of the first Agile influencers. After all, he wrote the subject’s proverbial book. Kent signed the first Agile Manifesto. Then, he went on to create the Extreme Programming and Test Driven Development Agile software methodologies. Kent also founded the concept of continuous integration, which helps software development team members integrate their work several times per day.
Today, Kent’s a programming coach at Facebook. His Twitter account shares advice on topics like how to clean up bad code and Agile’s best Yogi Berra-esque quotes. Our favorite gem: “steering productivity with deadlines is like steering a car with the gearshift.”
Lisa Crispin wears many hats. Alongside her dual roles as a prolific Agile tester and donkey fan, she was a key contributor to the Four Quadrants Agile testing model.
Lisa’s co-authoring credits include Agile Testing: A Practical Guide for Testers and Agile Teams, Beautiful Testing and Experiences in Test Automation, and Testing Extreme Programming. Her Twitter feed shares frequent workshops on Agile testing to help those around the world learn more about this art form.
Wallflowers might not take to Martin Fowler – he’s a self-described “author, speaker, and loud-mouth on the design of enterprise software.” But his contributions to Agile speak for themselves.
Refactoring, a book that Martin published in 1999, is often credited with bringing code refactoring to prominence. And his website’s a treasure trove for readers who want to learn more about Agile. Martin’s Twitter handle is also a strong resource for readers who seek computer science musings.
Scrum masters have learned a lot from Mike Cohn. The Founder of Mountain Goat Software has spent his 20-year career coaching software development teams on how to use Agile and Scrum methods.
Mike is also the author of several books on Scrum and Agile planning. Follow him on Twitter for his latest blog posts on topics like what to do before Scrum Masters take vacation.
Robert (Uncle Bob) Martin
If Kent Beck is the godfather of Agile, Robert Martin is the method’s uncle. Self-professed “Uncle Bob” called the meeting that produced the Agile Manifesto. In doing so, he helped usher the movement away from Extreme Programming techniques.
Bob still contributes to the software dev space. His Twitter handle’s a great resource to track new blog posts, episodes of his Clean Code podcast, and stops on his Test Driven Development tour.