How to apply Agile manifesto in your software development career

If you work in the software development industry, I have no doubt that you’ve heard of Agile manifesto. Unlike the traditional way of software development, which is also known as waterfall methodology, the Agile manifesto has four core values to encourage better way of doing software development.

Individuals and interactions over processes and tools
Working software over comprehensive documentation
Customer collaboration over contract negotiation
Responding to change over following a plan

That is, while there is value in the items on
the right, we value the items on the left more.

As I help individuals in the software development industry with their career development and progression, I realised that you could also apply the four values from Agile manifesto to better align your career development with the ever-changing landscape of the industry.

So without any further ado, let’s take a look at each value of the Agile manifesto and consider how it can be applied to your career development.

Individuals and interactions over processes and tools

You can’t progress in your career by being a lone wolf. Even when you are an individual contributor or a solo entrepreneur, you need to work well with others, be a team player and an effective communicator. One of the biggest reasons why some brilliant people don’t progress as far as they should in their career is because they fail to collaborate with others, engage others around them and get support from them. Having mentors, coaches and sponsors is important but having peers who vouch for you because you are thoughtful, approachable and collaborative is equally important.

Working experience over comprehensive certification

Gone were the days when you needed a Computer Science degree from a prestigious university to enter into the industry. Don’t get me wrong, having qualifications from world-class universities are great but they are not a mandatory requirement to get employment in the technology industry. These days, having a working experience and being able to demonstrate your skills from your side projects go a long way in securing a technical role in the industry. Once you’ve got you foot in the door and have proven yourself, your career progression will follow. Besides, as the technology industry is changing rapidly, some topics are yet to appear in academic curriculum and some topics are simply obsolete. To give an example, when I was studying for my Computer Science degree almost two decades ago, there was a course for multimedia development, and we learned how to program and create animations in Flash. A lot of the techniques that I learned in that course is no longer relevant in today’s world. Back then, there was no smartphone and mobile app development wasn’t heard of.

Customer collaboration over contract negotiation

Let’s take out the word customer from this manifesto and focus on collaboration. Collaboration - it’s one of the top rated skills to acquire in twenty first century and beyond. With future of work, remote working, machines and robots doing a lot of the tasks far better than humans could, collaboration is the very skill that will set humans apart from robots and demand for great collaboration skills will only increase. In this ever-changing industry, having the ability to collaborate and adapt means there will be more opportunities for you to move across from one discipline to another and have a lattice career progression. Career progression is no longer just about moving through the ranks and climbing the corporate ladder. For example, a designer could move across disciplines and become a product manager. A developer might decide they enjoy facilitating team processes more than coding and might become a scrum master. All these will be made possible because they possess great collaboration skill and are able to work efficiently and effectively with people across many different disciplines.

Responding to change over following a plan

Having a plan is good but with the rapid changes that are happening in the industry, if you try to follow a very rigid plan for your career, you will likely fall behind. Expectation as well as responsibilities for technology roles are changing, new roles are being created all the times and some old roles are no longer required. For example, when I first started my career as a web developer, I did everything from design, coding (both front-end and back-end) to testing and deployment. Deployment consisted of uploading a bunch of files via secure FTP server and hooking up to a database on a shared hosting via this awesome tool called CPanel. Nowadays, there are specialized people (and roles) to handle design, backend, front end, deployment, testing and so on. It’s not because things are more complicated now, it’s just that they are different - technology has evolved and so has our way of doing things. Therefore, you need to be able to learn and adapt quickly in order to progress as quickly in this industry.

Apply agile manifesto in your career

Agile is defined as “able to move quickly and easily.” Applying agile manifesto in your software development career is just that too - be flexible, be adaptable, be eager to learn, have a growth mindset and you will witness your career progressing swiftly.

Thank you for reading!

If you like this story, you might like to check out my latest book, for Software Developers: The Ultimate Software Development Career Guide in the Age of Technology Disruption.

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