The Agile Manifesto, authored in 2001 by 17 prominent software practitioners, consists of 4 values and 12 principles.
Probably any introduction to agile refers to this document.
The manifesto consists of 267 words across two web pages.

That’s it.

And yet, as agile coaches, we sometimes encounter agile practitioners who are not well versed in the agile manifesto.
What follows is a simple practice to increase your familiarity with it.

Update: One of my readers suggested I turn this post into a series. Over the coming months I will publish more tl;dr posts around the agile manifesto and update here.

Not too long ago I ran an agile refresh workshop. 
Some participants raised an eyebrow as we walked through the principles of the manifesto. For some, this turned into a surprise during a follow-up dead-simple exercise that had them deepen into the principles in a way that they didn’t experience before.
Here’s the exercise:

  • Form small groups of 3-6 people
  • Pick one principle
  • Read it aloud
  • On an attribute scale, place two dots:
    a) where are we today? and
    b) where we wish to be in 12 weeks time
  • Individually write on sticky-notes what actions will bring you closer to the target state
  • Discuss these actions in the group
  • Choose 1-3 actions to take to your next iteration
  • If you’re part of a larger group, share your learning with the entire group

Typically participants tell me that they never had to focus intently on the manifesto like in this exercise.

At this specific workshop, one of the participants, an orthodox Jew, told me: I now know what’s wrong with Scrum and why people fail at implementing Scrum. The missing part is the equivalent of Amidah, or Shmoneh Esreh Prayer (Eighteen Prayer). During this prayer we verse the same prayer three times every day. As a youngster you don’t understand why. As you age, you begin to internalize the meaning of the text. What’s missing in Scrum is taking a principle of the manifesto every day and learning it in depth. This is the first time I really studied the text and its meaning after many years of practicing agile.

I am not sure about changing Scrum to include this practice. For sure, this person had a profound moment by deepening into the meaning of the agile manifesto.
Either way, the entire manifesto 267 words. It is not too long to read for virtually all people.

I think that if practitioners will take the manifesto to their retrospective from time to time, this alone can help a better understanding of the meaning of being agile.



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