agile needs to be cleaned

By | August 26, 2020

With so much talk about scrum masters, kanban boards, Jira etc. it seems Agile is overly complex and hard to do. Where have we gone wrong?

It can be helpful to look at the original agile manifesto created from this meeting at Snowbird in early 2001 and see if we are still covering the basics.

History: Some pictures and PDFs of the Agile Manifesto meeting on 2001 | by  Prathan D. | Siam Chamnankit Family

The manifesto reads as follows.

Manifesto for Agile Software Development

We are uncovering better ways of developing
software by doing it and helping others do it.
Through this work we have come to value:

Individuals and interactions over processes and tools
Working software over comprehensive documentation
Customer collaboration over contract negotiation
Responding to change over following a plan

That is, while there is value in the items on
the right, we value the items on the left more.

Kent Beck
Mike Beedle
Arie van Bennekum
Alistair Cockburn
Ward Cunningham
Martin Fowler
James Grenning
Jim Highsmith
Andrew Hunt
Ron Jeffries
Jon Kern
Brian Marick
Robert C. Martin
Steve Mellor
Ken Schwaber
Jeff Sutherland
Dave Thomas

The 17 attendants signed the manifesto and soon after many others in the software industry signed on as well. This started a movement which changed the way we do software development.

Principles behind the Agile Manifesto

We follow these principles:

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

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

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

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

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

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

7. Working software is the primary measure of progress.

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

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

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

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

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

Poorly done Agile

Many don’t do agile well. Agile is supposed to be about how “individuals interact” but has given way to a huge market of “process and tools”, “certifications”, and “training”.

Uncle Bob Martin, one of the originators of the agile manifesto, has written a new book about how to clean up this Agile mess.

There is also a great podcast with him talking about this subject.

The Changelog 367: Back to Agile’s basics – Listen on

Large organizations resisting change

I came across these two videos from the government sector. What I found interesting was the pointed questions people were asking. Like “how does our long planning stages fit into Agile?”

The questions suggest a resistance to adopting agile. This is probably common in large organizations.

Watch the videos and think about unique scenarios in your organization. Will you have the same resistance?