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On February 11, 2021, the Agile community celebrated the 20th anniversary of the Agile Manifesto – the document that established the key values and principles behind the Agile movement that has helped teams work more efficiently and sustainably. While many things have changed over the last two decades in the Agile world, the Manifesto has remained consistent in its messaging to focus on how we work as a team, focus on the customer, and how we manage our priorities.

To celebrate the occasion, Hyperdrive has rounded up some fun facts about the history and ideation of the document that has changed the way so many business professionals think and work.

Après ski. The document was created by 17 software developers who gathered for a fun, weekend ski trip at Snowbird ski resort in Utah. Attendees included Alistair Cockburn, Kent Beck of Extreme Programming, Jim Highsmith of Adaptive Software Development, Ken Schwaber and Jeff Sutherland of Scrum, and Bob Martin (a.k.a. Uncle Bob) whose idea was to create the manifesto and came up with the original list of attendees, to name a few. They considered themselves independent thinkers who wanted to be free of the burden-laden, project management’s excess “baggage” used by companies. Instead, they looked to liberate themselves by establishing the vision on how they can be free to focus on the customer, embrace empiricism, collaborate, and deliver working products frequently. Most of all, they sought to improve the ways-of-work by demanding that “companies to rid themselves of their Dilbert manifestations of make-work and arcane policies”.

A Division United by Values. The 17 developers came from a variety of backgrounds – Extreme Programming, Scrum, DSDM, Adaptive Software Development, Crystal, Feature-Driven Development and Pragmatic Programming. and had conflicting opinions on issues/solutions. However, everyone agreed that there was a serious need for an alternative to the current documentation-driven, heavyweight project management processes. The outcome after two days of debates was that they aligned on “a set of values based on trust and respect for each other and promoting organizational models based on people, collaboration, and building the types of organizational communities in which we would want to work”. While specific practices may differ, it’s the Agile values that are paramount.

15 Minutes that Changed the World. The meeting took place over two days. After a lot of lively talk, everyone decided that they needed an overdue coffee break. Nine of them decided to hit the slopes while the eight remaining stayed behind and discussed values they found important in their respective roles. After only 15 minutes at the whiteboard and considerable discussion, the four core values were written, and better yet, everyone agreed on them! Read Jeff Sutherland’s account of this momentous day.

An alliance is formed. After brainstorming a variety of names, Mike Beedle is given credit for presenting the name “agile.” The group adopted the term and even nicknamed themselves “The Agile Alliance.”

4 Core Values, 12 Principles. Simple, yet purposeful. The Agile Manifesto (aka Manifesto for Agile Software Development) is built on 4 values and 12 principles for agile software development. The manifesto was designed to empower developers, speed up processes and to help encourage working practices that focus more directly on the user. Additionally, the values and principles encourage teams to be adaptive and effective to change and feedback. The 4 Core Values are:

  • 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.

Did you know? The 12 Agile Principles don’t explicitly call this out, but Agile Alliance has shared there are targeted audiences for this list. Some points are aimed towards the customer, some towards the team, and others for managers.

Customer-focused

  • Welcome changing requirements, even late in development. Agile processes harness change for the customer’s competitive advantage.
  • Deliver working software frequently, from a couple of weeks to a couple of months, with a preference to the shorter timescale.
  • Clients and developers must work together daily throughout the project.

Management-focused

  • Build projects around motivated individuals. Give them the environment and support they need, and trust them to get the job done.
  • The most efficient and effective method of conveying information to, and within a development team, is face-to-face conversation.
  • Working software is the primary measure of progress.
  • Agile processes promote sustainable development — the sponsors, developers, and users should be able to maintain a constant pace indefinitely.

Team-focused

  • Continuous attention to technical excellence and good design enhances agility.
  • Simplicity — the art of maximizing the amount of work not done — is essential.
  • The best architectures, requirements, and designs emerge from self-organizing teams.
  • At regular intervals, the team reflects on how to become more effective, then tunes and adjusts its behavior accordingly.

Small expectations, big results! Because attendees came from such different backgrounds, no one expected this group of agilists to agree on a united manifesto. However, all 17 members came together to form a set of compatible values based on trust and respect for each other that promoted organizational models based on people, collaboration, and building organizational communities that people would want to work in.

To learn from Hyperdrive how to apply Agile principles to your business and teams consider our Agile Coaching Track of classes. Or to let us help you in person, explore our consulting services for a customized plan.

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