Sunday, January 30, 2022

There is no Agile Manifesto

Just a little reminder: what many people nowadays think is a way of living or even a way of designing whole organisations was originally something quite different…

What most people call “The Agile Manifesto” actually has a title.

it is called Manifesto for Agile Software Development

And its authors propose the “Twelve Principles of Agile Software.

  • It does not specify a defined approach to continuous improvement – TPS (Toyota Production System) does that, for example
  • It does not elaborate on good ways to optimize lead times – The ToC (Theory of Constraints) does that, for example
  • It does not express any opinion on how a company should be structured in the post-Taylor era – Sociocracy and its derivates do that for example. So does New Work
  • It does not tell anyone how to handle finances without upfront budget plans – Beyond Budgeting does that, for example

And all of the approaches on the right hand side came into existence long before 2001, the year the “Manifesto for Agile Software Development“ was drafted.

If you look a bit further on the original web-page that launched the term “Agile” into the world, you’ll find that in the section “About the Manifesto” as well as in the headline above the twelve principles, it has been called “The Agile Manifesto” even by its authors. Maybe this helps explaining some of the confusion.

Personally, I find it very helpful to remember the context where the whole idea of “Agile” came from – maybe it’s helpful for you, too.

till next time
  Michael Mahlberg


Emanuel Kessler said...

Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

CU @ Boeffi .net said...

And it should have been better called "Manifesto for Adaptive..."... The reason is known to some ;-)

Michael Mahlberg said...

I don't know - I think if Jim Highsmith hadn't had his book ready for print back then and Adaptive had won the race, we would now have Cargo-Cult-Adaptive instead of Cargo-Cult-Agile. I think this is a general problem when ideas cross the chasm between "early adopters" and "early majority".