Go agile, or die. It sounds overdramatic, and it is a bit of an exaggeration, but it is the reality for a majority of businesses in the software development industry.

“Eventually, the companies that take the agile approach win in the competitive race, and that means they are the most successful companies,” said Baruch Sadogursky, developer advocate at JFrog. “There are industries, companies and niches that won’t go agile at all, and that is okay. But they won’t be doing anything new, exciting or interesting.”

(Related: A recap of Agile2015)

The race is a sprint to be the first to market, deliver the best software, and constantly update that software with new and exciting features as fast as possible. But with any competition, there are some winners and some losers. The desire to be agile is only a quarter of the battle. To actually succeed in agile is a processes within itself that takes time, dedication and discipline. Best practices are discovered and put into place, then tweaked as people and their interactions change.

Going agile is a little like going on a diet, according to Kevin Dunne, director of product strategy at QASymphony. When you go on a diet, you have to work hard, exercise and eat right to see the results, which is a better-quality version of yourself. But it doesn’t stop there; in order to maintain your newfound weight, you have to constantly uphold a healthy lifestyle. Similarly, when you go agile, you need to be disciplined. And to trim the fat, you have to change your mindset, the culture of the business, your workflow, and even your role within the business. There is no end point to going agile; you are always agile and always improving.

“People that see the transition as kind of a phase that has a start and end date are set up to fail,” Dunne said. “It is just like a diet. It is really more about a lifestyle change going to agile. You can’t just do agile for a few weeks, and then just forget about it. It has to be something you constantly embrace in your organization to keep it successful.”

You aren’t doing agile; you are agile
Agile isn’t just a process that is implemented into the software development life cycle; it is a culture change that affects the entire business. To truly be successful in agile, people need to understand that agile isn’t something you do; it is something you become, according to Caleb Brown, agile coach at CollabNet.

“Instead of saying, ‘We are just going to do the process to get our outcome,’ it is, ‘We want this outcome, let’s evaluate this process to see if it works,’ ” he said. “It is a matter of how do we get there, what decisions need to be made along the way, as opposed to [following] these steps and we get there.”