The Agile Manifesto

In 2001 17 people met in Snowbird, Utah and they came up with what was called the “Agile Manifesto” for software development:

Individuals and Interactions over Processes and Tools
Working Software over Comprehensive Documentation
Customer Collaboration over Contract Negotiation, and
Responding to Change over Following a Plan

2001 – 2016

In the last 15 years somehow the message was partially corrupted:

  • the word “Agile” is nowadays used in conjunction with everything (“let’s have an Agile breakfast!”) and has lost a lot of the original meaning;
  • an industry has risen around the word Agile, offering certifications, conferences, consultancy;
  • many today talk about “doing Agile”, expression that highlight the process part of the equation; you cannot really “do agile”, you can/should aim at “being agile”;
  • the Manifesto Mania;
  • all companies nowadays state that the people and the company culture make the difference, but how many really live up to this statement in the daily work?

Now this is somewhat inevitable and it’s not necessary a bad thing: every big change in the mindset is then adapted in the daily life and every company and team is mixing and matching to better satisfy their needs. Nonetheless I often have the impression that the Agile mindset has been in many cases misunderstood and reduced to “another way of managing projects”, possibly one that makes companies “go faster” and deliver more. The Agile approach often appears in organization with a poorly implemented Scrum, isolated in the development teams, while the rest of the organization continues with:

  • the same mindset (silos, “us” vs “them” attitude, local optimization, compliance to rigid roadmap and targets on KPIs);
  • the same roles and terminology (project managers, projects, man/days);
  • the same practices (to the extreme where sometimes what the teams are doing is waterfall inside Scrum).

Agility is the key

It is time to get back to the drawing board and read carefully the values once again. Then ask ourselves:

  • In whatever we do are we more on the left side of the Principles or on the right side?
  • Let’s stop using the overrated word “Agile” and replace it with “Agility”, that’s what we want to improve!
  • Improve (agility): Find out where we are, take a small step towards our goal, adjust based on what we learned, repeat
  • Always choose the path that promotes future agility

No silver bullet

Every month there is a new javascript framework (see the Javascript drinking game) and every year there is a new Agile framework. Every new framework promises to be the definitive one, while all the others have failed or are “dead”. What I strongly believe is that there is no silver bullet: use your own critical thinking, experiment, learn and adapt and you’ll find your own way.


See Agile is Dead (Long Live Agility)