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The Agile Manifesto and related project management frameworks like Scrum have revolutionized the way we make software. In fact, over two thirds of companies surveyed by Hewlett-Packard in 2015 reported that the way they code is either pure agile or leaning towards agile. Yet in the realm of commercial interiors, there is little awareness or discussion amongst architects and space planners on how to physically create work environments best suited to support Agile practices. Instead we use words like agile, collaborative, and innovative simply as labels for space that, until recently, has really focused on optimization strategies designed to drive costs savings instead of focusing on the human side of the equation. As a result, employers and employees alike are experiencing high levels of frustration from “one size fits all” approaches that typically remove walls and enclosed spaces resulting in favour of densely packed open environments leading to numerous complaints about a lack of privacy and an inability to focus.

Having spent almost twenty years in commercial real estate, I’ve worked with many technology companies and architects and have a keen understanding of the gap in basic shared vocabulary when the clients and consultants talk about creating an Agile space. In this series entitled Creating an Agile Workplace, Real Strategy examines concepts and themes outlining how an Agile minded office really functions. The aim of this series will be to serve as a bridge between the more technically minded software engineers and the creatively focused commercial interiors community who ultimately create the spaces where we go to work.

In this second of the series, let’s start with What is Agile? In our initial piece, “Creating Agile Environments Part I”, we looked at the 4 principal values of the Agile Manifesto itself. But the Agile Manifesto is more than those four simple statements. It includes 12 principles that take these lofty sentiments and translate them for the masses into more easily consumed, bite sized chunks of wisdom that I’ve since grouped into the following general themes:

  1. Customer satisfaction through delivery of valuable, working software is the highest priority and should be achieved by way of a tightly knit partnership between the customer and a highly motivated development team.
  2. Acknowledging that requirements change and that it’s okay. The goal is to adapt quickly and continue to deliver value. In this fast paced environment, regular face-to-face reflection is required to allow teams to fine tune and improve effectiveness.
  3. Working teams are fluid and self-organizing within sustainable working environments.
  4. Work/Life Balance is important for, implemented properly, a high performing Agile team should be able to keep up the pace indefinitely.
  5. Simplicity, the art of maximizing the work not done, is essential.

We’d love to chat about how to make your space more Agile, contact us today!

In our next piece, “Characteristics of Agile Environments”, we will explore these themes in broader detail.