Friday, June 17, 2011

The Agile Spirit

All Agile methods are guided by the Agile Manifesto and the Agile Principles. The Agile Manifesto takes 8 aspects of software development and compares the focus they should receive. A way to check if the Agile spirit is present is to bring a development team, management and stakeholders together. Write these 8 aspects on sticky notes as shown in Figure 5 and randomly put them on a flip-over or whiteboard. Then have every participant divide 5 marks over these aspects, reflecting his personal sense of value of these aspects in reaching the project goal (a happy customer). You can try this exercise for yourself. Which 5 aspects have you marked?

Figure 5: Agile Values Exercise

The Agile Manifesto , as shown in Figure 6, guides teams in a direction of improving communication and involvement and eliminating waste from their process. It is a good idea to hang it on a wall in everyone’s sight and use it whenever decisions on the process are made. We changed the second statement from the Agile Manifesto a bit to make it more widely usable.

Figure 6: The Agile Manifesto
After all marks have been given, rearrange the sticky notes according to the Agile Manifesto and check if the team values the aspects on the left more than the ones on the right. We have not experienced a team that valued an item on the right more than its counterpart on the left so it is a nice common starting point. The result might look something like Figure 7. The next question is: which aspects receive the most attention your organization? Prepare to be surprised by the discussion to follow.

Figure 7: Example Result of the Agile Values Exercise
Agile also has 12 principles  communicating the mindset teams and organizations need, to be able to leverage the advantages Agile has to offer. We will not discuss all 12 principles but they are partly incorporated in an upcoming post discussing Unified Principles for Iterative and Agile IT Development.

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