The Agile movement is continuing to gain traction in companies around the world, and it’s easy to see why — it provides real, actionable answers to quickly address an organization’s specific needs and goals. If you want to level-up in your Agile journey, the Agile Manifesto will help you, and your team, unite your processes and focus in on what really matters — getting work done quickly and efficiently.

What is the Agile Manifesto, and where did it come from?

The Agile Manifesto was crafted in 2001, in Utah, by seventeen people who wanted a clear way to unite all of the different forms of Agile and to improve software development.

The founders include Alistair Cockburn, Jon Kern, Ward Cunningham, Kent Beck, Arie Van Bennekum, Mike Beedle, Martin Fowler, James Grenning, Jim Highsmith, Andrew Hunt, Ron Jeffries, Brian Marick, Robert C. Martin, Steve Mellor, Ken Schwaber, Jeff Sutherland, and Dave Thomas (source).

Many of these men were already well known in the Agile space, so they knew exactly what needed to be included in the manifesto.

What’s included in the Agile Manifesto?

The Agile Manifesto has two major components — The Four Main Values and The Twelve Principles.

The Four Main Values

1. Individuals and Interactions Over Processes and Tools
This value is clearly stated and is reflected throughout most Agile practices. The idea is to prioritize people and their interactions with one another over anything else.

Without people, processes do little to move a project forward, and if processes are prioritized, workers might not be as motivated.

2. Working Software Over Comprehensive Documentation
Documentation is cut down drastically, and instead, the focus is on software.

“Agile does not eliminate documentation, but it streamlines it in a form that gives the developer what is needed to do the work without getting bogged down in minutiae.” (source).

3. Customer Collaboration Over Contract Negotiation
This value puts the customer in the process from the beginning, not just later in the work and negotiation process.

Collaboration from an early point ensures that the developers know what the customer wants, and that they will be happy with the outcome.

4. Responding to Change Over Following a Plan
Responding to change as quickly as it happens is a huge part of the Agile process. Planning is still important, of course, but responding to change as it comes is a more efficient way of working.

If you put off making changes or resolving issues, work can build-up, and the workflow can be disrupted. “Agile’s view is that changes always improve a project; changes provide additional value.” (source).

The Twelve Principles (source)

  1. Our highest priority is to satisfy the customer through early and continuous delivery of valuable software (or products).
  2. Welcome changing requirements, even late in development. Agile processes harness change for the customer’s competitive advantage.
  3. Deliver working software (or products) frequently, from a couple of weeks to a couple of months, with a preference to the shorter timescale.
  4. Business people and developers must work together daily throughout the project.
  5. Build projects around motivated individuals. Give them the environment and support they need, and trust them to get the job done.
  6. The most efficient and effective method of conveying information to and within a development team is a face-to-face conversation.
  7. Working software (or products) is the primary measure of progress.
  8. Agile processes promote sustainable development. The sponsors, developers, and users should be able to maintain a constant pace indefinitely.
  9. Continuous attention to technical excellence and good design enhances agility.
  10. Simplicity — the art of maximizing the amount of work not done — is essential.
  11. The best architectures, requirements, and designs emerge from self-organizing teams.
  12. At regular intervals, the team reflects on how to become more effective, then tunes and adjusts its behavior accordingly.

Teams who practice Agile of any kind (and in any industry) are encouraged to be familiar with the Agile Manifesto in order to better understand the methodology. It’s great to revisit whenever you are feeling unsure about Agile, or whenever you feel like your team is veering off track.

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What is the Agile Manifesto?

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