A Word About Agile

This idea of prototyping, testing, and iterating is so central to contemporary design practice that it’s worth mentioning the highly influential methodology, Agile, that helped crystalize the philosophy. While it had been gaining momentum since the early 1990s, the movement officially launched in 2001 when a group of seventeen software developers who were “organizational anarchists” met in Snowbird, Utah, and created the Manifesto for Agile Software Development.19 Among other things, they were revolting against the creation of large amounts of documentation before anything was built. Such documentation showed how a single idea was going to work, after which company bosses poured money and resources into the creation of that single product. The problem with this way of working came when development teams would discover, once already deep in the process, that there was a flaw in the initial concept. Or perhaps that while the concept had been perfect at the moment of conception, by the time it was ready to ship it had already been rendered obsolete by some technological advancement or shift in the marketplace, thus wasting a lot of money and human effort. Out of this conundrum arose the notion of building lots of small, cheap prototypes simultaneously as potential solutions, while constantly soliciting feedback in order to approve and adjust. Designers call this iteration, and it has since become the dominant design process.

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