The Agile Manifesto: The foundation of everything Agile

Agile Manifesto

One snowy day in early 2001 seventeen ambitious men sat down together to change the way of modern working forever. What emerged from this is the Agile Manifesto, which has since become world-famous and serves as the origin of almost all agile methods used today.

The “Manifesto for Agile Software Development”, or “Agile Manifesto” for short, is a collection of values that are important in agile software development. It was written in February 2001 by 17 still important representatives of the agile software development and agile world. That means the Agile Manifesto celebrated its 20th anniversary February this year(2021). Nevertheless, it is still as relevant today as it was when it emerged back in 2001. It serves as the foundation for nearly all agile methods and approaches, among them agile stars like SCRUM or Kanban. In this article, we take a closer look at the Agile Manifesto, its contents and what the “agile bible” actually stands for.

The emergence of the Agile Manifesto

In February 2001, 17 agile software developers sat down together and developed the Agile Manifesto, which still serves as the cornerstone of all agile methods today. In 12 principles and 4 values the gentlemen summarized the most important basic ideas of an agile mindset. Thus, they not only revolutionized agile software development, but also set the foundation for agility in all other areas of work and also private life. Listed alphabetically here are the 17 authors of the Agile Manifesto: Kent Beck, Mike Beedle. Arie van Bennekum, Alistair Cockburn, Ward Cunningham, Martin Fowler. James Grenning, Jim Highsmith, Andrew Hunt. Ron Jeffries, Jon Kern, Brian Marick, Robert C. Martin, Steve Mellor, Ken Schwaber, Jeff Sutherland and Dave Thomas.

One of them, Arie van Bennekum later built the IFAAI. He did this in order to keep the agile spirit alive and help others to demonstrate their knowledge and skills in this field.

The demand was clear

With the Agile Manifesto, the authors claimed to “discover better ways to develop software.” They do that by exploring and trying out agility and helping others do the same. In their work on agile software development, the founders of the Agile Manifesto were able to identify several values and principles. These are meant to help them in their agile work. Therefore, they are not withheld from us. They count 4 value pairs and 12 principles that agile useres should definitely know and recognize.


“Becoming Agile is moving from individual tasks to team delivery” – Arie van Bennekum

The 4 values of the Agile Manifesto

The Agile Manifesto contains four core points, or four values that should underlie agile working. In each of the four statements, the authors mention certain values that are “more important” than others. It is important to note that the values on the right are also important. You should consider them but still prioritize those on the left higher.

The four value pairs are:

  • Individuals and interactions over processes and tools.

  • Working software over comprehensive documentation.

  • Customer collaboration over contract negotiation.

  • Responding to change over following a plan.

As stated, the authors emphasize that although the items on the right side are important, they value the ones on the left side more. The 4 key points are purely to draw attention to the right prioritization.

The 12 principles of the Agile Manifesto

In addition to the four values, the authors also included twelve principles in the Agile Manifesto that you should keep in mind in any agile working process.

  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. Businesspeople 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 excellence and 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.

People have long since been using Agile not only in IT

Although the “Manifesto for Agile Software Development” originally even has software development in its name, agility is by no means only for IT. Although for many this misconception is now no more than just that, there are still some people who think agile is not for them. Because they are not in the software industry after all. However, this is a myth that can be quickly disproved. Therefore you should no longer pay attention to it.

In the current 2020 SCRUM Guide, SCRUM founders Jeff Sutherland and Ken Schwaber (also signers of the Agile Manifesto) firmly established that SCRUM (and thus Agile) is not just for software development, but also for any kind of product development. Ari van Bennekum, Co-Founder of IFAAI, also knows that agility is no longer limited to just one industry. It is important to him that people see the benefits of agility in all areas of life.


20 years Agile Manifesto

In conclusion, the Agile Manifesto is by no means aging. The mix of values and principles is still as relevant as it was 20 years ago and should underlie any agile approach. In addition, it can be helpful to regularly remind yourself of the guiding principles again and again, should the Agile mindset ever need a jolt or prioritizations become unclear. Especially for teams that are just getting started with agile, it can be beneficial to keep referring to and internalizing the Agile Manifesto.

Here you can find the Agile Manifesto

Everyone benefits from Agile

At IFAAI, we understand the benefits of agile and are confident that everyone can benefit. The Agile Manifesto as the basic building block of a new era of work and management should be recalled regularly. Those who adhere to the 4 values and 12 principles can achieve great things alone or with their team.

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