The Agile Manifesto is a brief document built on 4 values and 12 principles for Agile software development. It is the core document behind the rapid adoption and codification of Agile principles. While many of the principles and values of the manifesto were already being practiced by many within software development, this was the time that these practices were set down.
It is important today to know the principles of the Agile Manifesto because it remains the driving force and inspiration behind most of how the Agile methodology is practiced even today more than 20 years after it was published.
Want to learn more about Agile in general? Check out this post:
The Agile Manifesto was published in February 2001. It is the work of 17 software development practitioners who were responding to what they saw as the increasing need for an alternative to documentation-driven software development processes.
What is Agile methodology?
Contrary to popular belief, Agile is not just Scrum or Kanban explicitly. It is not a specific set of rules, nor is it even a methodology. According to the well-known software engineer and software development pioneer Jim Highsmith:
In today’s project management world, Agile is an umbrella term that includes holds various project management frameworks. Rather than try to think of Agile as a practice or set of tools, it is better to look at Agile as a mindset that helps organizations achieve a more adaptive way of organizing projects.
We may consider any project management framework to be Agile if it follows the four values and 12 principles of the Manifesto. This is why understanding the Agile Manifesto is so important.
History of the Agile Manifesto
In February 2001, 17 software development practitioners gathered at a ski resort in Utah to discuss the challenges of managing software development. The group had a variety of differing opinions on what the right approach would be, but they agreed that the existing approach was flawed.
Prior to this meeting, many software developers had been applying various Agile values and principles to their work. But never before had anyone codified these into a single source. Out of the discussions of the group in Utah that February, the Agile Manifesto was born. It has guided and inspired Agile practices and approaches ever since.
Here is a list of all 17 practitioners who signed that original manifesto in 2001:
- Kent Beck, who co-created eXtreme Programming (XP)
- Mike Beedle, co-author of Agile Software Development with Scrum
- Arie van Bennekum, owner of Integrated Agile
- Alistair Cockburn, IT strategist and creator of the Crystal Agile Methodology
- Ward Cunningham, inventor of wiki and first to coin term technical debt
- Martin Fowler, software practitioner, and partner at Thoughtworks
- James Grenning, author of Test-Driven Development
- Jim Highsmith, creator of Adaptive Software Development (ASD)
- Andrew Hunt, co-author of The Pragmatic Programmer
- Ron Jeffries, co-creator of eXtreme Programming (XP)
- Jon Kern, who still helps organizations with agile today
- Brian Marick, a computer scientist and author of several books on programming
- Robert C. Martin, also known as “Uncle Bob,” who consults via Clean Coding
- Steve Mellor, a computer scientist also credited with inventing Object-Oriented System Analysis (OOSA)
- Ken Schwaber, who co-created Scrum with Jeff Sutherland
- Jeff Sutherland, the inventor, and co-creator of Scrum
- Dave Thomas, programmer, and co-author of The Pragmatic Programmer
The 4 Agile Values
As the Agile Manifesto for Agile Software Development puts it, “We are uncovering better ways of developing software by doing it and helping others do it. Through this work we have come to value:”
- Individuals and interactions over processes and tools
- Working software over comprehensive documentation
- Customer collaboration over contract negotiation
- Responding to change over following a plan
The manifesto explicitly values the four items listed above in bold more highly than the contrasting points not highlighted in bold.
The 12 Agile Principles
To help teams implement these core values and understand the benefits of Agile, the creators also came up with their 12 Principles Behind the Agile Manifesto:
- Our highest priority is to satisfy the customer through early and continuous delivery of valuable software.
- 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.
- Business people and developers must work together daily throughout the project.
- 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.
- 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.
These principles lay out the mindset that any Agile team or project should carry. As you can see above, they are not extensive rules, but more suggestions to help guide you in the right direction.
While the Agile Manifesto was written for and by software developers, it does not apply only to development teams. It can be used by any team or organization, as long as they uphold the values and principles laid out above. Check out this post to see how our marketing team applies Agile to their process:
How to manage Agile projects on Teamhood
To help you implement the Agile values and principles, Teamhood has created a tool that eases collaboration, visualizes the process, and allows you to optimize and deliver the best results. With the help of our workspace templates, you can quickly create a Scrum or Kanban board to track your tasks or pick an industry-specific template and track your process in an Agile board catered to your projects.
The Teamhood task board is visual and easy to modify with custom columns, rows, and secondary processes to track subtasks. Use automation to move tasks between boards and ensure you deliver the optimal end result to your clients. Enjoy real Agile processes with Teamhood.
You can get started with a free trial, no credit card required.
2019 - Present Co-founder and CEO @ Teamhood.
2015-2019 Head of software engineering department at Danske Bank.
2017-2018 Partner Associate Professor at Vilnius University. Lecturer of Software Architecture course
2011 - 2015 Managed numerous smaller IT teams at Prewise.
Co-founder of RaveIT, Eylean, No Brakes Games
Certified Agile product owner and practitioner. Managed large scale enterprise projects as well as launch of small startup products.
MSc of Software Engineering at Vilnius University.
Hobbies: Racing, MTB cycling, Windsurfing