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How can I move from a Waterfall approach and learn Agile?

It's tough to be the lone Agile supporter in a world of Waterfall enthusiasts. Expert Gerie Owen offers advice on moving from Waterfall to Agile.

Today, most companies are looking for Agile skills.  If you want to advance outside of an employer entrenched in a Waterfall approach, you often will need to show that Agile skill set.  Even within your current employer, there may be a time when Agile skills are looked upon as valuable.

To change a Waterfall-focused dynamic, become actively involved in the Agile community (e.g., a local Agile user group).  Meet other Agile professionals, connect with the community and learn from others within it;  follow them on Twitter and LinkedIn.

You also can advocate for Agile within your own organization, even if it does support a Waterfall approach.  Many Agile teams don't follow the Agile model exclusively; rather, they selectively take on pieces that make sense to their unique environment.  You may find that your teams are open to sprints, even though they plan everything out in phases and deliver working code infrequently.

To become an Agile advocate, you have to be viewed as an Agile expert within your company.  How do you do this?  First, start by questioning whether there is a better way to move forward with your project.  If you are speaking up and offering fresh ideas, you may find that your teams are receptive.  Second, you'll need to educate yourself on Agile.  Get a certification, whether paid for by your company or on your own.  It is an investment in your career.

Last, there are likely others in your organization who want to move away from a Waterfall approach.  Find them, and start an internal Agile interest group. Together you may be able to effect changes that you may not be able to do separately.

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