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If you don’t know a little about Agile software development, it’s important enough that you should.

In short, Agile is a lighter-touch, more iterative, team-driven way of developing software that emerged in response to the highly bureaucratic, centralised-planningesque “waterfall” model of development that developed through the 80s and 90s.

You need to know about it because, well, software is important and it’s good to know a bit about how the world works, but also because the principles of agile have come to be more widely applied in other organisations, and most importantly they’re useful.

Here’s the…

Manifesto for Agile Software Development (2001):

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

Through this work we have come to value:
– Individuals and interactions over processes and tools;
– Working software over comprehensive documentation;
– Customer collaboration over contract negotiation;
– Responding to change over following a plan.

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

I like:

  • The use of the present continuous tense (“We are uncovering…”)
  • The emphasis on learning by doing and teaching
  • The tensions between good things recognised in the THIS over THAT statements…

Principles behind the Agile Manifesto

We follow these principles:

Our highest priority is to satisfy the customer
through early and continuous delivery
of valuable software.

Welcome changing requirements, even late in
development. Agile processes harness change for
the customer’s competitive advantage.

Deliver working software frequently, from a
couple of weeks to a couple of months, with a
preference to the shorter timescale.

Business people and developers must work
together daily throughout the project.

Build projects around motivated individuals.
Give them the environment and support they need,
and trust them to get the job done.

The most efficient and effective method of
conveying information to and within a development
team is face-to-face conversation.

Working software is the primary measure of progress.

Agile processes promote sustainable development.
The sponsors, developers, and users should be able
to maintain a constant pace indefinitely.

Continuous attention to technical excellence
and good design enhances agility.

Simplicity–the art of maximizing the amount
of work not done–is essential.

The best architectures, requirements, and designs
emerge from self-organizing teams.

At regular intervals, the team reflects on how
to become more effective, then tunes and adjusts
its behavior accordingly.
  • For “software” read “product”;
  • Note the emphases on sustainability, iteration and reflection;
  • … and technical excellence with good design;
  • … and the beautiful definition of simplicity.

I'd love to hear your thoughts and recommended resources...