Using the Agile Manifesto as a Baseline

November 3, 2017 — Posted by Al Shalloway

The last couple of years have had me better understand both the desire and need for a baseline (that is, a well-defined starting point) when starting a transformation. My work the last couple of weeks has heightened that. A couple of days ago I had an interesting and valuable conversation with Ebenezer Ikonne about how the Agile Manifesto could be a baseline for Agile and that trying to rewrite it or move on from it was only adding to the confusion in the software world.

I have always tried to be an integrative thinker. Admittedly, with regards to the Agile Manifesto and some other frameworks I have not always been able to do this. So, first, kudos to Eb, as he clearly has deeply thought through many of his beliefs while being open to learning from others. My talk with him influenced me in seeing both how to integrate my ideas with the Manifesto while helping unite the community.  If you like my shift re the Manifesto, thank Eb. However, since we didn’t actually talk about what I would write, anything you don’t like should be put on me.

Why This Article

One thing for me about the Manifesto is that it was written when Scrum and XP dominated. What was named ‘Agile’ was very team-centric and in many cases the team and product owner/customer represented the value stream. Paraphrasing Don Reinertsen "back in the day team-optimization was global optimization" but this is true no more. Perhaps more importantly, Lean concepts were neither widely nor well known in 2001. In particular: systems-thinking, the importance of managing queues, kanban as a pull-technique, and the proper role of management (the last of which is essentially ignored in the manifesto).

Even with the context within which we work and the addition of new paradigms to think within, the intent of the manifesto is still relevant. The Agile Manifesto should be a guide but not a limit on the belief system (or paradigm) within which we work. Unfortunately, for many it has become the latter. We could just as easily substitute the word ‘frameworks’ for the word ‘processes’ in the first value of the manifesto and see how we are still attached to following solutions. 

I have invested my time in this article in an effort to create space for a new way of looking for solutions in the area of creating business value that includes software. We must recognize our inherent nature to hold onto definitions and solutions while recognizing the inherent non-Agile aspect of that.  This represents a way of thinking about the Manifesto in the current day while keeping its original intent. I hope you find value.

I will be covering one value or principle of the manifesto each day. I hope you find value. 

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About the author | Al Shalloway

Al Shalloway is the founder and CEO of Net Objectives. With over 40 years of experience, Alan is an industry thought leader in Lean, Kanban, product portfolio management, SAFe, Scrum and agile design.



        

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