Apr 30, 2024, Business

The agile manifesto and the 12 agile principles

Anna Lipińska Project Manager
woman project manager with a clock
To better understand the Agile mindset, you have to start by looking at the manifesto for Agile Software Development, or what's commonly called the Agile Manifesto. The Agile Manifesto is a set of statements of four values and 12 principles that are intended to help you embrace an Agile mindset.

How did it all start?

Picture this: it’s February 2001, and a group of seventeen tech-savvy daredevils convene not in a dull boardroom, but on the snowy slopes of Utah’s Snowbird ski resort. Why? To sketch out a revolution! These weren’t your ordinary meetings with suits and ties; these folks wanted to shake things up, to challenge the traditional, sluggish ways of software development. So, armed with nothing but a whiteboard and a lot of caffeine, they hammered out the Agile Manifesto.


Now, let’s delve into the juicy bits – the values. They’re like the heart and soul of the Agile Manifesto, guiding us on our quest for better software development. 

The Agile Manifesto consists of four key values:

  • Individuals and interactions over processes and tools.

  • Working software over comprehensive documentation.

  • Customer collaboration over contract negotiation.

  • Responding to change over following a plan.

Also note: while there are values on the items on the right, we value the items on the left more.

So now let’s have a closer look at these four key values:

  • It’s all about valuing “Individuals and interactions over processes and tools.” Because let’s be real, no matter how shiny your tools are, they can’t beat a good old-fashioned chat over a cup of coffee. Plus, who doesn’t love a bit of human connection in the midst of all those ones and zeros?

  • Next, we’ve got “Working software over comprehensive documentation.” Imagine this: You spend hours crafting the perfect document, detailing every little thing about your software like it’s the next great novel. But wait, isn’t the whole point of software to, you know, actually work? So why drown in a sea of paperwork when you can let your software do the talking? After all, actions speak louder than words, especially in the coding world.

  • Then, there’s “Customer collaboration over contract negotiation.” Picture this scenario: You’re stuck in a never-ending loop of back-and-forth negotiations with your client, trying to hammer out every tiny detail in a contract. But hey, wouldn’t it be easier to just work together as a team? Because let’s face it, when you collaborate with your customers instead of treating them like distant entities, magical things happen. Plus, it’s way more fun to build something awesome together than to argue over legal jargon.

  • Last but not least, we’ve got “Responding to change over following a plan.” Ah, the age-old dilemma of sticking to a rigid plan versus rolling with the punches. In the wild world of software development, things can change faster than you can say “bug.” So why waste time clinging to a plan that’s as flexible as a brick? Embrace the chaos, adapt on the fly, and watch as your software evolves into something even cooler than you imagined.

The 12 Agile principles

But wait, there’s more! These genius minds knew that to really kickstart the Agile revolution, they needed more than just four bullet points. So, they embarked on an epic email chain adventure, bouncing ideas back and forth like a digital game of hot potato.

Fast forward a few months, and voila! The 12 Agile principles were born. It was like the sequel nobody knew they needed, filled with wit, wisdom, and a sprinkle of mischief. Suddenly, Agile development wasn’t just a concept; it was a full-blown party, complete with its own set of rules and guidelines.

And that’s where the real fun began. These principles weren’t just words on a page; they were the blueprint for a whole new way of thinking about software development. They were the secret sauce that turned ordinary teams into Agile superheroes, ready to tackle any challenge with a smile and a high-five.

These principles are actually much closer to what people think about when they imagine Agile development. It’s in these principles that you start to see the first rumblings of common Agile roles and practices.

So let’s have a look at 12 agile principles:

1. Customer satisfaction through early and continuous software delivery.

Imagine this: You’re at a fancy restaurant, eagerly awaiting your meal. But instead of serving it all at once, the chef brings out small, delicious courses one after another. That’s Agile in action! Because who wants to wait ages for their software when you can have bite-sized updates served fresh and early? Bon appétit!

2. Welcome changing requirements, even late in development.

Picture this: You’re halfway through building a sandcastle when suddenly, your little cousin decides they want a moat instead of a tower. Do you panic? Heck no! You grab your shovel and get to work, because in the world of Agile, change is as natural as sand shifting in the wind. Embrace the chaos, my friend.

3. Deliver working software frequently, with a preference for shorter timescales.

Imagine this: You’re a pizza delivery hero, zooming through the streets with hot, fresh pies in tow. Your customers don’t want to wait days for a soggy slice; they want it now, piping hot and delicious. That’s Agile in action! Because why wait months for a software update when you can have it delivered to your doorstep every few weeks?

4. Business people and developers must work together daily throughout the project.

Picture this: You’re at a bustling market, haggling over the price of a shiny new gadget. But instead of playing phone tag with the vendor, you’re right there, face-to-face, hashing out the details together. That’s Agile teamwork in action! Because when business folks and developers join forces, magic happens. Plus, who doesn’t love a bit of real-time collaboration?

5. Build projects around motivated individuals. Give them the environment and support they need, and trust them to get the job done.

Imagine this: You’re a coach gearing up for the big game. Your players are pumped, your fans are cheering, and you’ve got the perfect playbook. But instead of micromanaging every move, you step back and let your team shine. That’s Agile leadership in action! Because when you trust your players and give them the support they need, they’ll score touchdown after touchdown.

6. The most efficient and effective method of conveying information to and within a development team is face-to-face conversation.

Picture this: You’re at a party, surrounded by friends and laughter. Instead of sending text messages back and forth, you’re chatting face-to-face, swapping stories and sharing jokes. That’s Agile communication in action! Because let’s face it, nothing beats a good old-fashioned conversation, especially when you’re brainstorming ideas or tackling tough problems.

7. Working software is the primary measure of progress.

Imagine this: You’re on a road trip, cruising down the highway with the wind in your hair and the open road ahead. But instead of obsessing over how many miles you’ve traveled, you focus on reaching your destination. That’s Agile progress in action! Because in the world of software development, it’s not about how much code you churn out; it’s about reaching milestones and delivering working software that drives results.

8. Agile processes promote sustainable development. The sponsors, developers, and users should be able to maintain a constant pace indefinitely.

Picture this: You’re running a marathon, pacing yourself like a pro. Instead of sprinting out the gate and burning out halfway through, you maintain a steady rhythm from start to finish. That’s Agile sustainability in action! Because in the world of software development, it’s not about working yourself to the bone; it’s about finding a pace that you can maintain for the long haul.

9. Continuous attention to technical excellence and good design enhances agility.

Imagine this: You’re a master craftsman, meticulously carving each detail of a beautiful sculpture. Instead of rushing through the process, you take your time, ensuring that every cut is precise and every angle is perfect. That’s Agile craftsmanship in action! Because in the world of software development, quality matters. So instead of cutting corners, focus on technical excellence and watch your creations shine.

10. Simplicity--the art of maximizing the amount of work not done--is essential.

Picture this: You’re packing for a weekend getaway, trying to fit everything into a single suitcase. Instead of cramming in every outfit you own, you focus on the essentials, packing light and leaving room for souvenirs. That’s Agile simplicity in action! Because in the world of software development, less is often more. So instead of overcomplicating things, focus on what’s truly essential and watch your projects soar.

11. The best architectures, requirements, and designs emerge from self-organizing teams.

Imagine this: You’re in a jazz band, jamming out with your fellow musicians. Instead of following a strict script, you improvise, feeding off each other’s energy and creativity. That’s Agile collaboration in action! Because when you empower teams to self-organize and innovate, amazing things happen. So instead of dictating every move, trust your team to find their rhythm and create something truly magical.

12. At regular intervals, the team reflects on how to become more effective, then tunes and adjusts its behavior accordingly.

Picture this: You’re on a nature hike, trekking through the wilderness with nothing but the sound of birdsong and the rustle of leaves. Instead of rushing to reach your destination, you pause every now and then to catch your breath and admire the view. That’s Agile reflection in action! Because in the world of software development, it’s not just about moving forward; it’s about taking the time to reflect on your journey and make course corrections along the way.

So there you have it, folks: The Agile Manifesto, decoded with a dash of humor and a sprinkle of common sense. Because in the end, it’s all about keeping it real, staying flexible, and remembering that behind every line of code is a human being. Next time you find yourself knee-deep in Agile methodology, just remember the snowy slopes of Utah and the group of rebels who dared to challenge the status quo. And  let the Agile Manifesto be your guiding light through the twists and turns of software development. After all, in the world of Agile, change is not just welcomed – it’s celebrated! Let’s keep the Agile spirit alive and kicking!

12 principles