The Agile Manifesto - Values For Success


In 2001, seventeen software developers met at a resort in Snowbird, Utah, to discuss the emergence of lightweight development methods.

The group later published the Agile Manifesto (2001) since used as guidance for a broad range of product development frameworks, including Scrum and Kanban.


The Agile Manifesto Values

Based on their combined experience they published:

We are uncovering better ways of developing software by doing it and helping others do it. Through this work we have come to value:

Individuals and interactions over processes and tools

Working software over comprehensive documentation

Customer collaboration over contract negotiation

Responding to change over following a plan

That is to say, while both sides have value and the items on the right should be considered, the authors felt that the items on the left should have more influence on how people approach their work.

Scott Ambler has further explained:

  • Tools and processes are important, but competent people are more important to work together effectively.

  • Good documentation is helpful in helping people to understand how the software is built and how to use it, but the main point of development is to create software, not documentation.

  • A contract is important but is no substitute for working closely with customers to discover what they need.

  • A project plan is important, but it must not be too rigid to accommodate changes in technology or the environment, stakeholders' priorities, and people's understanding of the problem and its solution.

Exercise Guidance

This exercise is to help align the group with the connection of successful projects and the underpinning values of the Agile Manifesto.

To reduce any biases from the group, do not introduce the Agile Manifesto until the debrief afterwards.

📝 Invite the attendees to add sticky notes about the things that have helped make a project successful.

🎉 Ask them to think about everything that can make a project successful and add a sticky note for each to the frame below.

🤔 Ask them to place each sticky note next to the value card it most relates too. Please note that "on time", "on budget", and "with the agreed scope" are things that are true for a successful project. Instead, think about the things that help make these become a reality.

😄 Once the sticky notes are on the board and placed around a relevant value, take some time to talk through the sticky notes surrounding them.

Most of the time, most of the sticky notes will be grouped on the left-hand side of the frame, corresponding with the values we value more from the Agile Manifesto.

As part of the debrief, talk through the Agile Manifesto values and how delivering complex products requires us to take an approach that leans to the left of the values described.


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Jon Spruce
Enterprise Agile Coach & Scrum
An Enterprise Agile Coach with proven experience in leading successful large scale digital transformation, Agile adoption and DevOps change programmes. Jon supports clients to help them deliver world-class solutions through organisational redesign, effective leadership coaching, and building agile capability. Outside of the office, you can find him on a building site developing property, swimming in an extremely cold lake in Wales or in a plane working towards his Private Pilot’s Licence.
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