Practical Advice for the Agile Manifesto

Many of you already have read the Manifesto for Agile Software Development (aka the Agile Manifesto). However, are you using it daily or weekly with your team or organization?

Consider this… You are a grade 5 teacher of 30 children. You have just been opened to the idea that each child is noble and has their own specific needs. So what do you do? Try to incorporate this new learning into your teaching or disregard this new found truth?

The Agile Manifesto is just as powerful in aiding Agile teams to continuously learn, inspect and adapt, hold themselves to the high standard of truthfulness, and maintain high-performance results. Don’t you want this for your team(s)?

In a previous post, I describe how it is important to work on both the doing of Agile, and the being of Agile to make it effective and gain greater results.

Let’s look at each of the four values that it describes.

“Individuals and interactions over processes and tools.”

This seems easy yet it is deceptively difficult. It takes focused discipline to go have a face-to-face conversation when you receive a new email. It may be hard to build up strong people instead of buying the tool that your competitor is using.

– Practical advice: Pay attention to your desires to take the easy way out by sending an email or creating a new policy. Instead, develop your listening skills by being in the moment and trying to truly understand your co-worker’s challenges or reality.

“Working software over comprehensive documentation.”

This one is usually seen as either no documentation or becoming a coding cowboy. Neither is true!

-Practical advice: Focus on delivering real value to the customer by showing working/functional software that is written to solve the customer’s problems or needs. When writing documentation consider making the software so intuitive that not much is needed to explain in writing. This approach will help drive better software and make the end users happier.

“Customer collaboration over contract negotiation.”

This one makes those who have client-facing roles very uncomfortable. Why? Because it basically points out that their jobs and their way of connecting with the client will need to change. It suggests that you will need to see the client as an ally in the relationship.

-Practical advice: Begin by showing the client a demo from the Agile team or discussing the benefits of collaborating with them. A client usually enjoys tremendously the ability to change their mind (or direction) throughout the life of the project or working relationship.

“Responding to change over following a plan.”

This value can cause tremendous resistance because of our desire to permeate command and control. Plans change all the time and instead of trying to lock down a set of requirements we can be open and willing to allow opportunities to guide our work.

– Practical advice: This new way of working with clients empowers them through regular feedback (demos) and allows them to make mistakes and share learning without being penalized.

Now it’s your turn to look at yourself and your team and see how you are using the Agile Manifesto to become that much better in your work and your life. Good luck!

Image of the Agile Manifesto Poster by Adam Weisbart.

Warm regards,

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