February 2021, marked the 20th anniversary of the Agile Manifesto. Reflecting on this special date might easily lead to nostalgic or vindictive thoughts… This short post will stay away from that and instead distill the two principles and the corollary which we have taken from almost 15 years of Agile experience.
Reflecting on the 20th anniversary of the Agile Manifesto might easily lead to nostalgic or vindictive thoughts… This short post will stay away from that and instead distill the two principles and the corollary which we have taken from almost 15 years of Agile experience.
Principle #1: Teams exist as an expression of collective solidarity and alignment
Very often we’ve witnessed a collection of individuals, each of them talented in their own way, that would prioritize their own output as a satisfactory metric, while also neglecting the importance of focus and vision. Little, if any, progress is made there, and when there is, most of the time, it requires some flavor of middle-management coercion.
A team such as we state in this principle can cope with ups and down and understand the reasons behind every decision that takes place. Less cognitive dissonance, more empathy and a more sustainable process altogether can flourish here.
Principle #2: Waste is tolerable, what it isn’t tolerable is not tracking it
Agile has been often considered as an exceptionally good waste reducer. Waste comes in all shapes and colors. Finished work that wasn’t needed, meetings without the relevant stakeholders, no proper prioritization, early optimization, technical debt (in software development), low bus factor… The more waste, the less predictability.
Having said that, zero-waste policy can sometimes be problematic for one very simple reason; it’s not that bad to have some entropy flowing naturally through the process. Besides, there are always unknown unknowns. As long as the team is aware of the sources of such waste and has some way of accepting it under certain circumstances, the pressure can be lifted up a bit and allow some extra degrees of freedom, which might ironically lead to less overall waste.
Corollary: Last Responsible Moment is your rule-of-thumb decision making trick
The Last Responsible Moment for a decision is the moment at which you cannot gain any significant information and all options are still open. If you cross the LRM threshold, you end up with fewer options. If you don’t wait for it, you might end up with a poorly informed decision.
Agile requires solid LRM. It should come as second nature to all team members and the team as a whole.
This year marks the 20th Anniversary of the Agile Manifesto. It has aged rather well. Not surprisingly, it was given birth after the crisis of faith that was the 2000’s Millennial bug and dotcom bubble burst. Today, its simplicity and applicability still shine in a very different world.
Happy 20th birthday Agile Manifesto!
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