Backlogs, burndowns, velocities, retrospectives, Kanbans, MVPs, MMFs, TDDs, BDDs, XPs and The Definition of Done.

It's a brave new world out there and if you don't know how to play Planning Poker (yes, that's an Agile term), you might feel out of your depth and out of chips (that isn't an Agile term).

Agile is a well-formed response to a well-recognised problem: everything is uncertain and turbulent, always, everywhere.

Over the years we've seen both ends of the 'spectrum of silly'. At one end: a project which took 5 years to specify and another 5 years to write, resulting in a system that was 10 years out of date on day one. At the other end: a client who asked for a 'copy of Facebook', insisting that was the only specification they thought necessary. Needless to say, neither project went as well.

Having been 'in IT' for the past 20 years we have seen the problem of managing complexity over and over and (yes) over again. The Agile principles (a much easier read than the Agile glossary) express all the right concerns and form a basis for hitting the 'spectrum of silly' somewhere in the middle.

In as few words as I dare we are called to satisfy the customer and welcome changing requirements; to deliver working software by working daily with motivated individuals in face-to-face conversations. Working software (there's a lot of 'working') is the primary measure of progress; that software needs to be developed sustainably with technical excellence, good design and simplicity at heart. The self-organising teams involved should reflect, tune and adjust their behaviour every step of the way.

In its simplest form, that's it. The customer is always right but not always correct and needs software that works well. All parties are motivated, work closely and learn as they go. Agile provides a framework to get this done.

I'm tempted to add 'bish, bash, bosh', but that wouldn't be the slightest bit appropriate, so I won't.

Assuming these principles are correct, the means by which they're upheld necessarily looks different every time. My imaginary restaurant 'Chez Agile' has a menu of methods, practices, tools and tips from which its guests can build its own dream meal. For some that will be a balanced snack, for others it will be a 5 course Silver Service experience ("one more wafer-thin mint?"). If you're new to 'Chez Agile', you'll probably want the waiter to make some recommendations or go for a tasting menu… maybe I'm stretching the analogy too far.

You may feel excluded from Agile by not knowing your Antipatterns from your Heartbeat Retrospectives, but don't let that stop you from engaging at some level with this new world order. At its heart Agile is your friend, although it might feel like that guy/girl from your past who was good at everything and made you feel somewhat inadequate.

Working on the bases that 'no-one knows everything' and 'something is better than nothing', today is the best day to start looking at solving the bigger IT issues in your organisation.