Agility eXPlained

To Add Speed, Add Lightness


The Agile Manifesto

In mid February 2001, at the Snowbird ski resort in the mountains of Utah, 17 people met to solve a problem. What came out was the Agile Manifesto, a short but powerful statement of beliefs for how software could be better developed.

Manifestos are simply declarations of beliefs or opinions. Anyone could write a personal manifesto to declare what is most important to them. Organizations may have manifestos to communicate their vision. The Agile Manifesto was written by an informal alliance of representatives from Extreme Programming (XP), SCRUM, DSDM, Adaptive Software Development (ASD), Pragmatic Programming, as well as others sympathetic to the need for an alternative to the “heavy”, documentation-driven software development processes that was pervasive.

Manifestos need not be long – the Agile Manifesto contains only 68 words – but the message must use strong, affirmative language. Below is the complete text from the Agile Manifesto:

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.

Kent Beck James Grenning Robert C. Martin
Mike Beedle Jim Highsmith Steve Mellor
Arie van Bennekum Andrew Hunt Ken Schwaber
Alistair Cockburn Ron Jeffries Jeff Sutherland
Ward Cunningham Jon Kern Dave Thomas
Martin Fowler Brian Marick

© 2001, the above authors. This declaration may be freely copied in any form, but only in its entirety through this notice.

While this manifesto clearly and completely declares the four key values of Agile, the authors also communicated the twelve principles upon which these values are based.

The Agile Manifesto is a public statement professing their beliefs and intentions.  Although it was originally drafted by only 17 men, it’s been signed by over 15 thousand people as of this writing.  You can become a signatory as well. I signed in April 2011.


Simplify, then add Lightness

Colin Chapman, the influential automotive designer and founder of Lotus Cars, had an obsession the lightweight. “Simplify, then add lightness,” was his philosophy, making clear the vision of his company and its cars.

The Agile Manifesto, published on February 2001, was the result of 17 software developers discussing lightweight development methods. The idea was to introduce iterative and incremental development to the masses, freeing them from the tyranny of bloated project plans with long, drawn out schedules.  Adaptive planning and rapid, flexible responses to change were preferred to the weight of traditional development methods.

Over the years, the evolution of this simple idea had indeed brought lightness. By “subtracting weight” the Agile enterprise enjoys a favorable speed advantage over its counterparts.