Understanding the 12 Principles of the Agile Manifesto

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Understanding the 4 values and 12 Principles of the Agile Manifesto

 Are you a software development team working hard to understand the Agile Manifesto? If so, don't worry, it can be difficult to break it down and understand.

 As you work towards creating a lean and agile team, have everyone read this article so they can see what it is you're working towards. When everyone is reading from the same script and embraces these twelve principles and four values, you will see amazing success.

History of Agile

If you've ever been to Snowbird, Utah in February you know that the powder-soft snow makes for amazing skiing. What you might not know is the story about a dozen software rebels who met for three days of skiing nearly two decades ago.

Despite being competing developers, this small group of software developers agreed on one thing. If the software world was to keep up in the new digital age they would need to move far away from the archaic organizational business model.

What came from this meeting was more than a few days of fun skiing and warm dinners but also a proclamation that software development couldn't, and shouldn't, thrive in the old model any longer. 

They wrote a short manifesto that still rings true today. It has led a movement for young entrepreneurs to follow. Now, industries across the globe have adopted this way of thinking that spans much further than software.

You too can bring your team into this lean movement through incorporating the values and principles that came from that ski lodge in Utah almost twenty years ago.

4 Agile Manifesto Values

Every individual and every organization makes decisions and choices every day. Some are good and others are questionable, but we all make choices.

In order for your team to make good, cohesive choices that move the project towards completion, everyone needs to be on the same page when it comes to your company values

The agile manifesto outlines these four values to ensure success and agility in delivering great software to the client.

1. Value the Individual

Whether your working with your team members, the customer, or another department within your organization, value each individual over the process or tools. Yes, efficient tools can make your work faster and more efficient. However, when you value each individual you will motivate everyone to buy-in on the project and work towards the end goal.

2. Value Customer Collaboration

Your customer isn't a paycheck and they aren't the enemy. Work with them, listen to them, figure out their pain points. These will allow you to create the best product for them and will ensure customer satisfaction with the final deliverable.

3. Value Change

Don't let yourself get stuck in following the plan simply because it was what everyone agreed upon at the beginning. Sometimes your best plans are a guess as to what will happen in the future. Since we can't predict the future, be open to valuing change when the plan doesn't work out.

4. Value the Working Product

While creating documentation is valuable and beautiful mock-ups are great for presentation purposes, the main focus of everyone on your team needs to be the working product. Getting this working product into the hands of your customer is the main goal and must remain the focus of everyone on your team.

12 Principles of the Agile Manifesto

Working as part of a team can be the most rewarding, and yet most frustrating experience for many developers. To ensure maximum efficiency and productivity, teams must work from the same set of principles and have complete trust in their colleagues.

Here we outline the twelve core principles that make up the agile manifesto and allow teams to work efficiently and cohesively.

 

1. Be Customer-Focused

Your highest priority is a happy customer. And happy customers have the final product in their hands a quick as possible. Deliver working software on a regular basis and don't keep the client waiting. 

2. Accept Change

Change can be difficult, but in the agile framework, the change should be embraced and welcomed at any time. And this includes even at the end of your project. Many companies force a product to market simply because they have spent years working on it. If you reach the end of your product development and find the market has changed or the client isn't happy, don't be afraid of change. 

3. Work in Short Time Frames and Deliver Frequently

Long delivery time frames are outdated and won't keep your customer happy. Work in short time frames and deliver your product at the end of each sprint. Get a working prototype into the hands of your client so they can see it and use it. Their feedback will be immeasurably better when they have a working deliverable to test out.

4. Break Down the Silos

Your R&D team should not be kept separate from your sales and marketing team or customer service. When all your departments work together, great software is developed and delivered to happy clients. Daily meetings are great to get everyone together and on the same page.

But you can also go a step further, have the sales team spend some time in the developing department. Send your top developer to spend a day with customer service listening to the questions and problems your customers are having. This will spark creativity and problem solving that can't be done when everyone is kept in their separate silos.

5. Trust and Motivate Your Team

Hire the best, and then trust them to do their job and be the best. Motivated people will work hard and enjoy their work. Set goals and get your team on board with them, this will ensure great work done quickly.

6. Face to Face Is Best

Email communication has been a great addition to efficiency in the workplace. And yet at the same time, it has been a great hindrance to efficiency in the workplace. Many times that question you have for your co-worker is best when done face to face. 

To avoid interruptions to workflow, save your questions for the predetermined, scheduled scrum meeting. When everyone knows that every day after lunch the whole team will meet for fifteen minutes, this enables them to have these important face to face conversations, saving wasted minutes checking email and avoiding interruptions by stopping by their office.

7. Focus on the Working Software

Progress reports and mock-ups have their place but not at the expense of getting the working software into the hands of the client. The only deliverable you need to focus on is that of the functioning software your client can use.

8. Work at a Sustainable and Repeatable Pace

While the agile framework focuses on getting your product and project done as quickly as possible, you still need to maintain a sustainable pace. It doesn't do you or your team any good to work so hard you burn out and have to take a month off. Focus on agility while also being able to repeat this process again and again. 

9. Pay Attention to Quality

Just because you're focused on getting your product to the customer as fast as you can, doesn't mean you need to sacrifice quality or technical excellence. A quality product is more efficient and easier to improve upon. Don't sacrifice quality for speed of production.

10. Keep It Simple

You don't need overly long and drawn-out processes. Do just what is necessary to get the job done. Long workflows and complicated delivery schedules are a thing of the past. Keep it simple and only do what is necessary to get the working product to your client as fast as you can while also delivering top quality.

11. Teams Can Organize and Regulate Themselves

Don't fall into the trap of micro-managing your team. You've put together a talented and brilliant team, trust them to do their job. It doesn't do you any good to hunt the best software developers only to then micro-manage or question their choices or decisions. Allow your team to self-regulate and watch them break records while doing it.

12. Reflect and Adjust 

Schedule time into each project development process to reflect on what worked and what didn't. Don't just keep going to the next project, reflect how can we do this better? Continual change and progress will keep your team agile and successful.

A Simple Guide to a Complex Framework

Learning about the agile manifesto can be a life-changing process. But it doesn't have to be difficult. To learn more about how to get your team on board with operating in the agile framework, consider investing in team development courses today. 

You can learn more about our training opportunities here. This could be the best investment you make in your team this year, so don't delay.

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