Top 5 Reasons Why Agile Development Spurs Innovation

Following an agile software development process does not guarantee innovation, but following this development process does increase the odds of teams producing more innovation and innovative solutions. The list below illustrate elements of the agile processes that increase the likelihood of innovation:

1) Agile development encourages cross functional teams and direct, frequent communication with stakeholders. Cross-functional teams bring people with different professional and personal backgrounds together to agree on what problems need solving and consider multiple solutions from different vantage points.

2) Agile delivery encourages business and technology teams to run, think fast, and deliver efficient solutions. Updating the backlog with the most important stories takes a lot of work and lots of thinking. Thinking, cross-functional teams that are running tend to be more innovative.

3) Agile delivery encouraged a product team to deliver features to the market faster and encourages teams to capture and use customer feedback in prioritizing enhancements - #innovation = the art of making great leaps forward via incremental #agile deliveries.

4) If your software teams spend too much time fixing bugs and addressing defects, there's little time to work on innovative solutions. Agile teams tend to be disciplined on process and practice defect avoidance strategies like test driven development (TDD). The team is motivated to spend more time working on new products and enhancements where one can be innovative, rather than fixing bugs.

5) Developers find agile a fun process. Happy productive people tend to be more innovative.


  1. Hey, thanks for posting this!

    Another thing I might add is that agile was created based on the way that people really THINK about creating things (aka innovating).

    I just can't believe that anybody creates anything even remotely innovative using a heavily structured, strictly adhered to waterfall plan. The best you can hope to do is exactly what you were asked to do - which is usually based on simply "what we already know, because we don't know what else we can ask for." Zero innovation there.

    Innovation isn't nearly that neat. It requires trial and error. And agile's short iterations to "try things out" with it's continual inspections & adapting provides us a framework within which we can do that... and, I think, that makes it safe to fail (the "error" part of trial & error) because we know we'll catch it very quickly and learn from it, build upon it, to get closer to that very cool, innovative solution.

  2. Anonymous7:57 PM

    Nice post Isaac. It is good to be reminded that using Agile is not just about more efficient process, and improved time to market. It is about creating great products, innovative products. And it is about the joyousness experienced while doing so.

  3. Thanks for the comments and some memorable quotes. I might use them in one of my next posts. Also I'm looking for real features and products that would have been hard to conceptualize or develop in waterfall, and the agile process clearly led to an innovative product. From my end, fits this bill.

  4. Anonymous7:00 AM

    Great post Isaac. Your post reminded me of John Boyd - the idea that speed of iteration triumphs over the pursuit of perfection. I think innovation is such as a risky game that it requires that we learn from what our customers are saying, course correct, meet/exceed their needs and keep doing that. This is exactly what agile methods espouse.

  5. Right on the spot with this post Isaac. Reading your post I cannot but conclude that working in an Agile way make teams more innovative. I think this is also very true for the business side. By being delivered what is asked business users can get very creative in defining new functionality confident that if the priority is high enough they will get it delivered.

  6. Anonymous5:54 PM

    I agree with your 5 points, but I would add a 6th reason why Agile spurs innovation. Agile is a learning framework with truthfulness at it's core. The more truthful the organization and members of a team are with each other, the deeper the learning. And the deeper the learning, the more innovative the approaches to development become. Take out the games, politics, hedging, and hoarding of information. Being authentic with other people is the surest way to freeing teams from the obstacles to innovation.


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About Isaac Sacolick

Isaac Sacolick is President of StarCIO, a technology leadership company that guides organizations on building digital transformation core competencies. He is the author of Digital Trailblazer and the Amazon bestseller Driving Digital and speaks about agile planning, devops, data science, product management, and other digital transformation best practices. Sacolick is a recognized top social CIO, a digital transformation influencer, and has over 900 articles published at InfoWorld,, his blog Social, Agile, and Transformation, and other sites. You can find him sharing new insights @NYIke on Twitter, his Driving Digital Standup YouTube channel, or during the Coffee with Digital Trailblazers.