The Agile Manifesto

The Agile Manifesto, written in 2001, outlines four core values that guide Agile teams:

  1. Individuals and interactions over processes and tools
  2. Working software over comprehensive documentation
  3. Customer collaboration over contract negotiation
  4. Responding to change over following a plan

While there is value in the items on the right, Agile places greater emphasis on the items on the left. Let’s dive deeper into each value:

1. Individuals and Interactions Over Processes and Tools

Agile stresses the importance of people communicating and collaborating effectively over rigid adherence to processes and tools. The goal is to facilitate teamwork and enable creativity.

For example, having a quick conversation to clarify requirements is often more effective than a long email chain. Processes and tools should support collaboration, not hinder it.

2. Working Software Over Comprehensive Documentation

Agile prioritizes delivering value to the customer over spending excessive time on detailed documentation. The primary measure of progress is working software (or whatever deliverable the project aims to produce).

Applying this to non-software projects

  1. For a legal brief, focus on delivering a persuasive argument.
  2. When designing an office layout, prioritize creating a functional, inspiring space.
  3. For a sales presentation, concentrate on crafting an engaging, informative pitch.
Diagram titled "The Agile manifesto" showing 5 key principles on the left (Individual and interactions, Working software, Customer collaboration, Responding to change) contrasted with 4 opposing principles on the right (Over processed and tools, Over comprehensive documentation, Over contract negotiation, Over following a plan).
The Agile Manifesto Principles
This diagram illustrates the core values and principles behind the Agile software development methodology. On the left side, it lists 4 key Agile principles: valuing individuals and interactions, working software, customer collaboration, and responding to change. These are contrasted on the right side with the opposing traditional development mindset of focusing on processes, comprehensive documentation, strict contracts, and rigidly following plans. The Agile Manifesto emphasizes the items on the left, while still acknowledging there is value in the items on the right in moderation.

3. Customer Collaboration Over Contract Negotiation

Agile values collaborating with customers frequently to ensure their needs are met. Formal contracts and change requests are less important than building a product the customer finds valuable.

Agile teams should seek every opportunity to involve the customer, such as:

  • Presenting early prototypes
  • Gathering feedback regularly
  • Adapting plans based on evolving requirements

4. Responding to Change Over Following a Plan

Agile acknowledges that requirements and priorities can shift during a project. Teams must be flexible and adapt to changes quickly.

Agile planning is important, but plans are not set in stone. Continuous improvement and course correction based on feedback are vital to delivering the best possible outcome.

By embracing these four values, Agile teams can navigate the uncertainty and complexity common in today’s projects. The 12 Principles of Agile provide further guidance on putting these values into practice.