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What if the Agile Manifesto Was Authored Today?

It's hard to say exactly what the Agile manifesto would say if it were written in 2023, as it would depend on the specific perspectives and priorities of the individuals involved in its creation.

In 2001, the original manifesto was authored by a group of software development experts who had grown dissatisfied with traditional, heavyweight software development methodologies. They believed these methodologies were inflexible, bureaucratic, slow, and hindered software development teams' ability to respond quickly to changing requirements and customer needs. The authors believed that by embracing a set of core values and principles vs. a specific process, software development teams could create better software faster and more efficiently. Valuing humans and their interactions, working products, customer collaboration, and responding to change are all valid in today's business context.

However, it's possible that a 2023 manifesto would include more emphasis on topics that are becoming increasingly important in the industry, such as:

  • Ethics and Privacy: Being open and honest about the product's capabilities, limitations, fairness, and potential impact on society, the environment, and individuals. Including the importance of security and privacy in product development.

  • Modern Workplaces: Emphasizing the importance of remote work and virtual collaboration, including the importance of diversity, equity, and inclusion in product development teams.

  • Sustainability: The importance of sustainability, green development, and the effect of the product on the environment.

  • Learning: The commitment to continual learning, experimentation, and improving the product and business outcomes.

The last thing that a 2023 manifesto might address is what the 2001 manifesto was trying to address back when it was authored. Twenty years after the creation of Agile, companies still need to be more flexible, less bureaucratic, and faster in value creation. In fact, some of the more popular Agile frameworks and how they are deployed only add to this problem. Perhaps the most significant value miss of the 2001 manifesto is trust over command and control. Trust is an essential component of effective teamwork and leadership. When trust is present in an organization, it can lead to increased productivity, better communication, and more successful outcomes. In contrast, a command and control approach, characterized by hierarchical structures and a lack of trust in employees, can lead to a lack of motivation, communication, and innovation.

One last thought, most organizations spend little time talking about their company's guiding values and principles. The same can be said for teams that start an Agile transformation and need to grasp that Agile is not a process but a set of guiding values and principles. As such, it is essential to adapt and tailor them to suit each organization's specific needs and context. In most cases, Agile values and principles enhance the ones the company has already chosen to embrace. So spend some time writing your own version of the Agile manifesto. Doing this will deepen your understanding of the 2001 work and better guide your company to success.


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