Is Agile a framework, Mindset, or Methodology? | David Tzemach

What is Agile? Is it a framework? A mindset? A methodology? There are too many misconceptions about what Agile is. This has led to wrong decisions made in organizations and poor adoption of it.

“Framework” is defined by the Oxford English Dictionary as:

  • An essential supporting structure of a building, vehicle, or object.

  • A basic structure underlying a system, concept, or text.

This means that a framework is a conceptual idea that we use to support the structure of an object (building, computer system, etc.). Its objective is to improve the stability, resiliency and foundation of the object built on top of it.

“Mindset” is defined by the Merriam-Webster dictionary as:

  • A mental attitude or inclination.

  • A fixed state of mind.

  • A particular way of thinking: a person's attitude or set of opinions about something.

A mindset is a way of thinking, attitude, tendency or disposition, a mental attitude that has taken shape based on environment, life experience, education, and the beliefs absorbed from those people we have the most interaction with within our lives.

Another way to define a mindset is to treat it as a “belief.” A belief informs the way a person reacts in different situations and decides on his next steps.

“Methodology” is defined by the Merriam-Webster dictionary as:

  • A set of methods, rules, or ideas that are important in a science or art: a particular procedure or set of procedures.

A methodology is less context-sensitive; it can handle different situations by using a set of guidelines, rules, tools, practices, and methods. The most important thing here is that a methodology is meant to be applied as-is, and, depending on the situation, it is adjusted accordingly.

So, what is Agile?

With this basic information, feel free to decide for yourself. For me, Agile does not entirely fit into any of these definitions. I tend to place Agile more as a mindset because it suggests a different way of thinking about the software development process, whether it is treated as a methodology (although Agile does not specify any methods, tools or real practices besides a theoretical description) or a framework (although Agile does not define a specific system for development).


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