Upgrading the Agile Manifesto

When starting on the journey to agility, the most common path is for an organization to hire a Certified Agile Consultant™ and learn about the Manifesto for Agile Software Development followed by Scrum. Then they spend time catching up to the present 20+ years of learning and hopefully learn that delivery and not the process is the point. Why must everyone start at the beginning? The Manifesto was written over 20 years ago. Some principles have not aged well and most Scrum training reinforces the principles that need upgrading. For example, “we deliver every 2–4 weeks” continues to be a constraint on a majority of teams.

Today, we know that the continuous delivery of value yields better results. We have the ability to get feedback on the quality of our ideas much sooner with less risk and less drama when we learn to solve the problems of “why can’t we deliver value today?”

I Propose a Pull Request…

Code review comments for this post

The Preamble

We are uncovering better ways of developing software by doing it and helping others do it.

Since this was written, we have uncovered practices that are better in every context. Continuous Delivery is one of those practices. We should focus on getting better at that.

We are uncovering better ways of continuously delivering value to the end-user and helping others do it.

1st Principle

Our highest priority is to satisfy the customer through early and continuous delivery of valuable software.

If we just reflect on the implications of this, we mostly only need this principle.

2nd Principle

Welcome changing requirements, even late in development. Agile processes harness change for the customer’s competitive advantage.

Let’s be more explicit.

Incorrect, misunderstood, or changing requirements are the expectation. We embrace this to design a system of delivery to improve the customer’s competitive advantage.

3rd Principle

Deliver working software frequently, from a couple of weeks to a couple of months, with a preference to the shorter timescale.

This one has aged very poorly. In modern development, we now have the ability to actually achieve the 1st principle by…

Continuously deliver working software, from a couple of hours to a couple of days, with a preference to the shorter timescale.

4th Principle

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

Projects are not something we should do.

Business people and developers are one product team with birth to death ownership of the outcomes.

5th Principle

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

I’m never motivated by a project. I like to see and improve my outcomes. I may be motivated to begin working on a product, but if I find myself in an environment of blame, death marches, lack of user feedback, etc. I will become demotivated. Now, if you ask me to help solve real problems and provide continuous delivery of valuable solutions…

Build product teams with understanding and ownership of the mission, ownership of the solutions, and responsibility for the outcomes in an environment that attracts, grows and retains motivated people.

7th Principle

Working software is the primary measure of progress.

Well, nearly…

How often do you find that “working software” is interpreted as “meets the required spec?” Our goal is valuable solutions to business problems.

Valuable outcomes are the measure of progress.

11th Principle

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

This one is often misunderstood. It needs clarification.

The best architectures, requirements, and designs emerge from product teams who have ownership of the problem to be solved, ownership of how to solve it, and responsibility for the outcomes.

12th Principle

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

I frequently see retros every six months. How can we be more explicit? Why shouldn’t improvement be part of daily work?

The team continuously reflects on things that casue pain, reduce morale, and increase delivery drag on the team, then tunes and adjusts its behavior accordingly using data to validate the changes.

Duena’s 14th Principle

My friend Duena Blomstrom’s response to this post proposes another principle. What we do is mostly about people, not technology. To be effective, we need as many ideas as possible from everyone on the team. Let’s make that policy explicit.

To be sustainable, happy and high-performing, we are to put the human work and psychological safety of the team, first.

Where can I send my PR?

Written on October 17, 2021 by Bryan Finster.

Originally published on Medium