The Agile Values and Principles for Everyone

shirlyBy Shirly Ronen-Harel

Shirly Ronen-Harel is a coach and consultant in Agile / Lean methods. She is also author of ‘The coaching Booster Book , and the ‘Agile Kids’ books and currently writing her new book.

Agile hold a minimum set of values and principles, following them, will allow taking the agile almost anywhere.Once we get the grip of that, we can implement agile, its tools and mindset almost for anything. Only fine tuning and modifications will be required.

Post takeaways:

  • An overview over the agile values
  • How to translate those to your own context
  • How was it translated to family context
  • How was it translated to schools context
  • Try yourself check list

First, Let’s dive in to the original agile values.

Agile is an empirical process based on the principles of delivering working items and continues improve by continues adopting an awareness to problems and solving them within. It is a method of adapting to complex and constantly changed systems.

Agile is not one methodology, it’s actually a set of tools, values, principles, a collection of mindset beliefs that helps getting things done. In agile, like in agile, you can never implement the exact same framework in two organization. You will always need to adjust, be agile, and refine your activities and tool. This is because agile relays on people and effectiveness of processes and each group of people so deferent, even if they are manufacturing the same product.

Agile is Based on the mindset and psychological aspect, where teams are self-organizing and self-directed. It holds more than just few mindsets approaches related to empowered individuals, self motivate individuals and Creativity and innovation are highly appreciated and encouraged. When those individuals are part of a group with a common goals (let’s say, school for example) the agile method proves to get things done faster than any other method; the agile method will also facilitate the grows of the group and individuals within and though grow the outcome of a group for better performance.

It’s a way to improve and get things done. It’s a light designed frame work, easy to adapt even in partial aspects, where all of these can happen regardless the type of area of which we wish to evolve to agile.

Continue to next tab “Values”…….

The agile software development manifesto.

Initially, the agile as a method and its values and the principles behind it were mostly fit to the IT and software engineering industry. You can find them all here.

http://agilemanifesto.org/principles.html

http://agilemanifesto.org/

Lets dive into them a bit and reappear back and see how we can take those into “everyone’s” world

“We are uncovering better ways of developing software by doing it and helping others do it.

Through this work we have come to value:

Value 1: “Individuals and interactions over processes and tools”

We believe that effective communication may drive a group of people toward better efficient and effective performance. We employ a vast set of communication tools to make sure it happens, and we demand the same from team members and management.

We believe that face to face communication is a key for success. We believe that using frequent communication is even better. And we make sure direct communication is kept as a key using various tools such as a daily standup meeting, retrospective, talking about planning, visualizing our work to our team members and stakeholders. And we prefer doing that face to face over communicating using several of tools. It’s just doesn’t work when we have so many mediators (phone, applications, reports). After all we are people, working together.

We believe then in:

  • Frequent , direct communication
  • Transparency and truth in a communication that leads to trust
  • Transparency toward decisions, toward impediments

We strive to coach and lead individuals and group to follow the communication set of behaviors.

For example, isn’t it better for a teacher to hold a close communication with a child parent then keep all her feedback to the last moment before giving the grade? Isn’t it easier to get early feedback from the teacher, besides only via a tool (grade) and then get the opportunity for early improvement and early feedback once again? After all, we all know the grade are just a tool, there is a lot going on beyond the grades.

Inset it better to talk to the teacher then get her feedback via email? Wouldn’t it give us the opportunity to react, and get feedback?

Value 2: Working software over comprehensive documentation”

This is our deliverables.

We deliver working outcome as set of intervals each holding a value. Instead of long month of planning, design, developing and testing an entire system, we do this more frequent, with smaller portions and each portion is a working software.

We make sure everything we do that we want to deliver holds its definition of done. Meaning, what will make this task complete.

In order to deliver something bit that works, we believe that dividing it to smaller portions that each works and holds a value is better than building in parallel many parts and try to shamble them at the end. The effort to build it up , correct and change  is huge  , sometime needs getting back to the core developed framework , the amount of errs are out of control. The feedback is sometimes too late and the changes will be build ad plasters over a non working product.

This is a mindset change statement. It allows as at early staged give and get early feedback over our work. And we should be open to that feedback.

Lets say , we are building a car , so we better not check at the last moment that the wheel is working as part of assembling and testing the entire product. We will probably build the wheel as a separate mechanism, test it (reuse it), then connect it to other working items such as the wheels and retest them. Errs will the be easy to detect and solve.

Value 3:Customer collaboration over contract negotiation”

Collaborating with our stakeholders

When the stakeholder is involved, he feels more in control, anxiety reduced and communication flows better. We don’t have to wait a long period of time till the end of a project finding out we didn’t develop what the customer wanted. And, god, how often did this happen?! Almost 90% of the times!

We need to have the ability for early feedback.

In school as an example, I tend to consider the teachers as the principle customer and vice versa. Therefore, sharing your plans and outcomes in an early stage, while at the same time having a hart bit of healthy feedback may empower the entire system toward better ideas, better cooperation and better performance. Everyone feels they have a share. And agile does exactly that.

Value 4:Responding to change over following a plan”

We leave in a very small world, communication is faster and changes are all over. In the industry of software development change is a reality. And we may better understand it and adapt. It’s not only that the technology is changing all around, it’s also our need to develop over these technology frameworks (such as develop over iphone , tablet, PC , Mac) it’s also the frequent of changes in what we develop may change. People may also change their priority for variety of reasons , especially customers. People are not born to forecast the future (well at least most of us), so it may be that we want something develop today and change our mind in few weeks.

Agile holds a set of rules and behaviors allowing us better to react to the changing environment , weather with hard strict rules (“The sprint is the team safe zone”) or with soft skills supplied (frequent communication) or tools (standup meeting).

Same goes to all of us, the non software world residents. We need to embrace change first, acknowledge that changes are fact of life, and embrace the tools that will allow us better accept a change and grow to take advantage out of it.

We may hold a yearlong curriculum plan for our class, but then comes an event , that make us change. We want to be able to embrace change, understand the we are working according to the value of each deliverable holds and we may leave a side other deliverable and artifacts as a result of a change. We are not expected to toe everything at once , but we are expected to be agile enough to leave in this fast changed reality.

That is, while there is value in the items on the right, we value the items on the left more.

Continue to next tab “Principles”…….

The software development Principles behind the Agile Manifesto

These reflecting the values above in a more practical sense.

We follow these Principles:

  1. Our highest priority is to satisfy the customer through early and continuous delivery of valuable software.
  2. Welcome changing requirements, even late in development. Agile processes harness change for the customer’s competitive advantage.
  3. Deliver working software frequently, from a couple of weeks to a couple of months, with a preference to the shorter timescale.
  4. Business people and developers must work together daily throughout the project.
  5. Build projects around motivated individuals. Give them the environment and support they need, and trust them to get the job done.
  6. The most efficient and effective method of conveying information to and within a development team is face-to-face conversation.
  7. Working software is the primary measure of progress.
  8. Agile processes promote sustainable development. The sponsors, developers, and users should be able to maintain a constant pace indefinitely.
  9. Continuous attention to technical excellenceand good design enhances agility.
  10. Simplicity–the art of maximizing the amount of work not done–is essential.
  11. The best architectures, requirements, and designs emerge from self-organizing teams.
  12. At regular intervals, the team reflects on how to become more effective, then tunes and adjusts its behavior accordingly.

Continue to next tab “Common Grounds”…….

The first thing will be to try and understand those values and principles to fit to a more common ground then just software.

Remember: these are not lip service, we need to understand each of them and follow them.

Well, mainly when taking it to the common ground of practice agile principles are about:

Individuals and interactions over process and tools

Communication is a key , we can’t skip it. We live in a world of constant and fast communication using tools. Face to face communication cannot be skipped and its proven to be effective than any other tool.

Getting things done over measures of behaviors

Stop concentrating over measures, grades. It’s not that it is not important, rather than it should not be the scope of evaluating yourself. Achieving a true progress a long with mindset change is the true goal.

We better deliver 100%  of 80% then 80% of 100%  , its better to stick to the important then just do things we don’t need; understanding what is important is an art.

Stakeholder’s collaboration over lack of feedback

Involve others that have interest, get early feedback. Its always better to do small mistakes then big last minute big mistakes.
Responding to change over following a plan

Changes are part of our day to day activities; we better accept it and adapt to change all the time. Changing I a potential for growth; staying in one place will get you stuck. Change and adapt all the time

Self organization leads to prosperity

Take decisions; Fail; Learn to grow for your mistakes; is a key to success.

Continue to next tab “Agile@Home”…….

agile at home

Then, the next step should be, to try and fit those values to the one , you  are trying to evolve to agile.

For examples, when we came to implement the agile into a family and with kids , we initially defined some of our values as guidelines:

The Agile@Home Values and principles: 

That is, while there is value in the items on the right, we value the items on the left more

We also took the principles behind the values and translated them to what we believe in to be our agile way.

  1. Our highest priority is our family and our children. Our children go through childhood once, and we are the ones responsible for it.
  2. We believe that the parent is the key to family growth and should be coached to be the role model for any required changes.
  3. The family must work together as a team in order to enhance its communication, achievements and abilities, including the children regardless of their age.
  4. Investing constantly in our family, even for brief periods of time and regardless of negative or positive events, will bring about good results.
  5. The parents must supply the family with the right tools to succeed, and trust them that they will know best how to use them for their needs.
  6. We believe that face to face communication is the most effective form of communication.
  7. The most effective family empowerment and growth will come from the ability of parents and children to have an open dialog.
  8. Simplicity is an art. Dividing big issues into small chunks will bring the best results. Doing ‘just enough’ from these chunks will bring about the best results. An effective change is one that is done gradually, so it is quantifiable and manageable in real time, while at the same time the entire family is responsible for the change.
  9. The best outcomes come from children and families that manage themselves effectively.
  10. we believe that enhancing one’s strengths also enhances his weaknesses. Therefore we prefer to focus on the strong and positive over the weak and negative.
  11. We believe that all family members must evaluate their actions constantly, not just when a crisis emerges.
  12. Visibility and openness is the key to family empowerment.
  13. We believe that fun, rather than ‘serious’ takes us further. Therefore, we will make sure that everything we do will involve the element of fun, although we will insist on making it fit to the spirit of the events.

Continue to next tab “Agile@School”…….

 

I’m amazed at how easily it translates to education if you are applying scrum in schools for example:

I have encountered this article of a very talented  teacher stating the agile values as he sees fir to the education arena (contact him)

About the Author

Steve Peha is the President of Teaching That Makes Sense, an education consultancy in Carrboro, NC specializing in literacy, assessment, and school leadership. Since 1995, he has taught in thousands of classrooms and hundreds of schools across the United States and Canada. Prior to that he was a software entrepreneur

The Twelve Principles of Agile Schools

We follow these principles:

  1. Our highest priority is to satisfy the needs of children and their families through early and continuous delivery of meaningful learning.
  2. Welcome changing requirements, even late in a learning cycle. Harness change for the benefit of children and their families.
  3. Deliver meaningful learning frequently, from a couple of days to a couple of weeks, with a preference to the shorter timescale.
  4. School and family team members work together daily to create learning opportunities for all participants.
  5. Build projects around motivated individuals. Give them the environment and support they need, and trust them to get the job done.
  6. The most efficient and effective method of conveying information to and within a team is face-to-face conversation.
  7. Meaningful learning is the primary measure of progress.
  8. Our processes promote sustainability. Educators, students, and families should be able to maintain a constant pace indefinitely.
  9. Continuous attention to technical excellence and good design enhances adaptability.
  10. Simplicity-the art of maximizing the amount of work not done-is essential.
  11. The best ideas and initiatives emerge from self-organizing teams.
  12. At regular intervals, teams reflect on how to become more effective, then tune and adjust their behavior accordingly.

Here again, we find a blueprint for better schooling.

Now it’s your turn:

  • Individuals and interactions over process and tools …………
  • Getting things done over measures of behaviors …………..
  • Steak holder’s collaboration over lack of feedback …….……..
  • Responding to change over following a plan ……..……
  • Self organization leads to prosperity …….…….

 

  1. Our highest priority is ….
  2. Welcome changing ……..
  3. Deliver meaningful ……
  4. …….. Team members work together daily ……..
  5. Build projects around motivated individuals……….
  6. face-to-face communication is………
  7. Meaningful outcome  is the primary measure of progress….
  8. Constantly invest in….
  9. Continues improvement is……
  10.  Simplicity-the art of maximizing the amount of work not done-is essential…..
  11. The best ideas and initiatives emerge from self-organizing teams.
  12. Simplicity is an art…Dividing big issues into small chunks will bring the best results. …
  13. The best outcomes come from ….. that manage themselves effectively.
  14. Visibility and openness is the key ……
  15. We believe that fun, rather than ‘serious’ takes us further……
  16. And more……

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