What is Agile ? … According to IBM

What Is Agile?

What does it mean to be agile? Jim Kavanaugh, Senior Vice President, Transformation and Operations, and Rob Purdie, Agile Practice Lead, IBM Studios, explain what it is, what it is not, and how the different pieces work together to help create a culture of collaboration, teamwork and continuous improvement.

How It Works: Design Thinking (IBM)

Trying to solve a problem or find better ways of getting work done? Get familiar with IBM Design Thinking and Agile.

Design with soul

Give your product personality

The IBM Design Language is a set of living guidelines that communicates a brand promise through our products’ experiences. Our goal is to design for experiences that work together, work the same and work for our users.

We create many different kinds of products, so our language is designed to be more instructive than prescriptive. This effort is relatively new and intentionally crafted to evolve through feedback from product teams and users. We invite you to use our language and join the conversation at IBM Design.

Have fun and remember to share what you learn.

Be authentically thoughtful

In everything we do, we put our users first. We include them in our process so they can leave their imprint on the design. When you use the IBM Design Language, we ask you to be authentically thoughtful.

Authenticity is based on real, shared experiences and is sensed rather than rationalized. Thoughtfulness is a quality that comes from the heart with the best of intentions in mind. It is the deliberate consideration for the needs of others and an empathic understanding of what is most important.

To provide authentically thoughtful experiences, we must be more than user-centered, we must be human-centered—to know people first as people, not as users or customers or clients. Our designs are conceived from a deep understanding of humanity and with the desire to help individuals accomplish their goals.

Rand sketch

Paul Rand 1981, Rebus Illustration

Our brand promise

IBM’s brand promise requires us to be reflective about every experience we aim to deliver. We ask ourselves:


Does the visual design enhance people’s understanding of how the world works? Is it purposeful in its intent? Does it help users see the world in a new way—from a clearer perspective?


Do we listen as collaborators? Do we have something to say—not just something to sell? Do we make a case with reason and intelligence and emphasize what truly matters?


Do we communicate a logical, clear point of view about how to close the gap between what is and what should be? Do we offer insight, not just facts? Do we focus on implications and actions?


Does it have industrial-strength quality? Does it focus on how we can help create value? Does it reflect a systems-thinking point of view?

Get creative

Mix the elements together for endless possibilities

Security Report

The absence of color draws the eye toward the color-filled graphs and comment box. The use of color also highlights the key information sections. The design uses icons whenever it can, rather than text, for the navigation menu and editing actions.

Relationship Manager

The primary focal point is the list. Horizontal lines help group the data across the page but are spacious enough to not clutter the table. Data is also grouped vertically though bolded text, shape and color, and text format, which helps to preserve data unity.

Information Graphic

The most important information is bold, and the visualization is not overloaded with exact numbers or percentages. Instead of telling the user what is happening, the graph shows how many info and key updates are occurring.

Task Manager

The application enables a user on a mobile device to productively manage on the go. The layout is spacious and gives ample room for thumbs to manipulate list items with ease. The buttons are also large enough for users to press confidently without errors.

Agile in the Enterprise: IBM’s Agile Transformation

Find out how IBM leveraged Agile practices, Rational Team Concert and Rational Asset Manager to improve software delivery, increase innovation and reduce costs. Scaling Agile in the enterprise is possible! Learn how IBM approached this challenge and the benefits IBM obtained by increasing collaboration and code reuse.

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