Agile Manifesto: 12 principles that help businesses build products that their customers will love and value
The creators of the 12 agile principles chose the word “Agile” because it represents the adaptiveness and response to change which was so important to the approach.
Why was the Agile Manifesto written?
In 2001, seventeen software developers agreed on the 12 agile principles that lead to the creation of the Agile Manifesto. The four core values of the manifesto can be summed up as follows:
- Focus on individual interactions over processes and tools.
- Deliver working software over comprehensive documentation.
- Build trust through collaboration with the customer instead of contract negotiations.
- Adapt and respond to change, more than following a plan.
The importance of the 12 Agile principles
The principles behind the agile manifesto are the foundation of established practices, aimed at supporting teams in implementing and executing with agility. Let us delve deeper into each of these 12 agile principles to learn what they are and how they can help.
1. Our highest priority is to satisfy the customer through the early and continuous delivery of valuable software.
Reducing the time between documenting the project, reporting to your customer, and then getting feedback, you can focus on the real goal of the project, and deliver exactly what the customer wants.
2. Welcome changing requirements, even late in development. Agile processes harness change for the customer’s competitive advantage.
Become comfortable being uncomfortable. When the customer requests a change late in the project phase, implement it. The core aim of Agile is to allow you to stay nimble and pivot without having to constantly reinvent the wheel.
3. Deliver working software frequently, from a couple of weeks to a couple of months, with a preference for the shorter timescale.
Give up the traditional etched-in-stone schedule, at the bare minimum create a shorter timeframe to run tasks. Agile does this is by cutting out a lot of the documentation that is required in traditional projects before you ever start a task. A lot of that paperwork isn’t necessary and can slow things down.
4. Business people and developers must work together daily throughout the project.
Both the business and developer sides of the project are crucial for success. Aim to build a bridge to foster understanding between the two camps to allow them to work well together.
5. Build projects around motivated individuals. Give them the environment and support they need, and trust them to get the job done.
The key is to never micromanage, as it simply does not work. Focus is lost, morale is eroded, and inevitably leads to talented individuals leaving your team or organization.
Software such as Jira, Trello, or Monday.com can give your team the tools to manage their work effectively, without comprising data and proper tracking.
6. The most efficient and effective method of conveying information to and within a development team is face-to-face conversation.
When you are trying to move swiftly, you need immediate answers, and the only way to achieve that speed of response is by talking to your team member or team in person. You can do this by working in the same physical space or having distributed teams. However, if it’s the latter, aim to keep the same schedules for the duration of the project, so that you can at least video conference. Which creates a more collaborative environment.
7. Working software is the primary measure of progress within the 12 agile principles.
You are not only measuring progress based on task completion percentages and moving across your scheduled timeline but also by the success of the product. The key is to remain focused on what’s important.
8. Agile processes promote sustainable development. The sponsors, developers, and users should be able to maintain a constant pace indefinitely.
Short sprints of activity not only lend themselves to accepting change more readily, they also help to keep teams motivated and avoid burnout. Remember not to overtax your team(s) too much, as it will impact the quality of your product. Aim to always build a team that will work hard but not overextend themselves and focuses on delivering quality.
9. The 12 agile principles place the emphasis on continuous attention to technical excellence and that good design enhances agility.
Whether you’re working on code, user journeys, or something else, focus on ensuring that after each iteration the product is improving. Always aim to fix things in the present, or even better, make sure they’re getting better. Use scrum, an agile framework for completing complex projects, and keep the project evolving.
10. Simplicity — the art of maximizing the amount of work not being done — is essential.
Keeping things as simple as possible is a great ethic to streamline your processes. You can do this by using agile tools that give you more control over every aspect of the project.
11. The best architectures, requirements, and designs emerge from self-organizing teams.
When you’ve done your job in collecting the right people, you want to give that team the autonomy to act independently. This means they can adapt to change quickly and resolve issues before they become problems.
12. At regular intervals, the team reflects on how to become more effective, then tunes and adjusts its behavior accordingly.
A huge benefit of creating a well-rounded team is that they will stop, reflect and adjust their way of working throughout the course of the project. The last thing any Product Manager wants is a complacent team. What is required is an ever-evolving group that is constantly engaged and looking for ways to improve productivity.
The 12 agile principles, whether you work within an agile environment or are curious about the origins of this framework, aim to give product managers the tools to navigate the varied obstacles that come up in any project.
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