Agile Manifesto: Incredible Success and time to Move On

This blog was originally written in April, 2012

I have incredible respect for the signatories of the Agile Manifesto. I believe it to be a great document. I say this for several reasons – the greatest being it created a new space for effective development to take place. It started a movement that has changed the lives of millions.

That said, I believe manifestos, by their very nature when they are effective, tend to be time dependent. In the case of the Agile manifesto, this is particularly so – it’s very success has created a vacuum.

The Agile Manifesto’s success has created opportunity for Agile to manifest (pun intended) throughout the organization. However, because it focused on the development organization, it has left a vacuum.

Some people have challenged me about my assertion that the Agile Manifesto focuses on the development team. A twittervation with Derek Neighbors (@dneighborsr) prompted me to make the following table about the Agile Manifesto – showing what it mentions by role/area:

  Which Area / Role Is Referred to
Principle Business Management Developers / Software / Project Customers
Our highest priority is to satisfy the customer through early and continuous delivery of valuable software     Explicitly Mentioned Explicitly Mentioned
Welcome changing requirements, even late in development. Agile processes harness change for the customer’s competitive advantage.     Explicitly Mentioned Explicitly Mentioned
Deliver working software frequently, from a couple of weeks to a couple of months, with a preference to the shorter timescale.     Explicitly Mentioned  
Business people and developers must work together daily throughout the project Explicitly Mentioned   Explicitly Mentioned twice  
Build projects around motivated individuals. Give them the environment and support they need, and trust them to get the job done.     Mentioned 4 times  
The most efficient and effective method of conveying information to and within a development team is face-to-face conversation     Explicitly Mentioned  
Working software is the primary measure of progress.     Explicitly Mentioned  
Agile processes promote sustainable development. The sponsors, developers, and users should be able to maintain a constant pace indefinitely. Explicitly Mentioned   Explicitly Mentioned Explicitly Mentioned
Continuous attention to technical excellence and good design enhances agility     Explicitly Mentioned  
Simplicity–the art of maximizing the amount of work not done–is essential.        
The best architectures, requirements, and designs emerge from self-organizing teams.     Mentioned 3 times  
At regular intervals, the team reflects on how to become more effective, then tunes and adjusts its behavior accordingly.     Mentioned  
Total Times Mentioned 2 0 17 3

I am sorry if I can’t see how the numbers on that last row don’t make my case. However, be very clear, that this actually is evidence that the Agile Manifesto was great and worked! So no one should take this as an attack on it. By working so well, we have expanded Agile into a space outside of where the Agile Manifesto originally existed. I can’t think of a greater testament to it than that.

Agile is now as much, or more, about the enterprise as it is about teams. We don’t need a new manifesto, we just need to be open to expanding what we are going after.

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