Some time ago I had a really nice disucssion on LinkedIn (Sorry for those that can't see it).
In this discussion Klaus Bucka-Lassen made a really good and valid point:
Agile is an adjective. An organization can be more or less agile. Ultimately agility simply is your ability to react. The quicker you can react to (unforeseen) changes, the more agile you are.
Let's try to take a dive into this statement.
"Agile is an adjective..."
If we begin to think the concept of "Agile" as an adjective we get a lot of insights in why "Agile" should start as a mindset in each one of us and why it is something we can gradually learn and scale to the current demand. I can try to learn to be faster, as well as I can try to learn an agile mindset.
Let us say we have a project methodology. This can be your favorite methodology. If you were to describe it to me, how would you do that? Would you say: "My methodology is agile"? That equals to saying: "My methodology is beautiful". And there is an old saying: "Beauty is in the eye of the beholder". This also applies here, you might think your methodology is agile, but in my perception it is not or vice versa. You must say why your methodology is beautiful... ehh, agile. "This methodology is agile because we can react to changes quickly using iterations".
This also shows another important point: Saying something is agile is not the goal in it self. The goal is to have a methodology that fits your project, not a project that fits your methodology. Agility is just a mean to get better results.
Responding to Change Over Following a Plan
As Klaus Bucka-Lassen puts it:
Ultimately agility simply is your ability to react. The quicker you can react to (unforeseen) changes, the more agile you are.
This underlines his previous point. The tools you use is not important, how you react to change is not the important thing here. The single most important thing is that you react. Whether that is changing requirements, change cadance in iterations or something else.
Hence, when we reduce "agile" to its core values it says something about responding to change over following a plan, not that you should use scrum, kanban, SAFe etc...