Agile is based on a set of 4 values and 12 principles and was written in 2001 by a collection of the world’s foremost authorities on software development. While software development was the primary reason the Agile Manifesto came about, over the last decade these values and principles have expanded into other areas as people in the Agile community leverage the power of Agile for community, government, non-profits and more.
Individuals and Interactions over Processes and Tools
Working Software over Comprehensive Documentation
Customer Collaboration over Contract Negotiation
Responding to Change over Following a Plan
“while there is value in the statements on the right, we value the statements on the left more.”
Common Agile Myths
Whoohoo! No more documentation!
This is common, Agile does not mean no documentation. Agile means figure out what documentation is the most valuable and don’t document for the sake of having documentation. Obviously if you work in a highly regulated environment, you may need more documentation than other organizations. All the documentation in the world is meaningless if your software doesn’t work.
Example: While working in a large organization, our team created incremental documentation for the training group who needed to put together training documentation for thousands of store employees. Every 2 weeks we showed the trainers the changes in the software and provided them screenshots of before and after the changes. Previously the software teams would spend months making the changes and then handoff the software to the trainers so they could create their documentation. We produced just enough documentation to provide huge value to the trainers.
Yay! No More Planning!
I have seen this in many organizations where Agile is used as an excuse for poor planning. Often novices with Agile will say things like “we can’t plan, that would be ‘waterfall’” which not only is in-accurate, it’s irresponsible. Plan enough to get started and be prepared to change the plan as you learn more.
Example: While working in a small organization the team lead would not allow more detailed planning as he interpreted that as “waterfall”. Many times the team would find problems and new information far too late in the development process which led to more defects and re-work down the road. This team lead would also use the term “scope creep” and was unwilling to accept any changes which is not what the spirit of Agile is. No planning is irresponsible and Agile is not to be used as an excuse to not plan. There are many Agile practices and techniques to do more effective planning.