Throughout my consulting career I have seen companies attempting to transition to an Agile way of working without fully understanding why and what they need to succeed. I picked-up on some of these points in the blog ‘The Four Pillars of Implementing Agile into Your Business’ which outlines four key areas of focus.
The purpose of this blog is to provide you with my interpretation of the Agile manifesto and what it means to me; as an enabler for an Agile mind-set.
Individuals and Interactions over processes and tools
The key word here is ‘collaboration’! Agile provides us with a process to follow and a tool kit to utilise, but this isn’t what makes us Agile: following the right process and utilising effective tools does empower us as team members, but collaborating with one another gets us working more effectively.
By building close working relationships with stakeholders and end-users, and collaborating effectively, you can remove the need for convoluted processes by having a simple conversation with the right people at the right time to achieve the right goal. Self-managed co-located teams enables interactive teams.
Working software over comprehensive documentation
You must ask yourself what adds value? It stands to reason that delivering ‘working software’ is more valuable than spending days and weeks producing a verbose document that will be read once, if at all. That doesn’t mean to say that you shouldn’t document what you’re doing or what you plan to do.
You should aim to produce ‘just enough’ documentation that adds value, if it doesn’t add value don’t do it.
Customer collaboration over contract negotiation
As with ‘individuals and interactions’ customer collaboration throughout a project is necessary to ensure the right thing gets delivered at the right time, and that decisions are made quickly when responding to change.
Responding to change over following a plan
Quick response to change enables continuous improvement. Teams must be on-hand to respond to what the business needs to benefit early. Nothing should be set in stone, because we don’t always have the answers from the beginning. Plans provide structure, this is true, but since when did anything go to plan? Your plan should be used as a framework for delivery and allow flexibility to respond to change.
The Agile manifesto is based on the following twelve principles:
1. Customer satisfaction by early and continuous delivery of valuable software
2. Welcome changing requirements, even in late development
3. Working software is delivered frequently (weeks rather than months)
4. Close, daily cooperation between business people and developers
5. Projects are built around motivated individuals, who should be trusted
6. Face-to-face conversation is the best form of communication (co-location)
7. Working software is the primary measure of progress
8. Sustainable development, able to maintain a constant pace
9. Continuous attention to technical excellence and good design
10. Simplicity—the art of maximizing the amount of work not done—is essential
11. Best architectures, requirements, and designs emerge from self-organizing teams
12. Regularly, the team reflects on how to become more effective, and adjusts accordingly
Note: Other Agile methodologies phrase their principles differently, but all can be mapped to the manifesto.
Stay Agile – keep to the manifesto!