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Scott Duncan on Examining the Agile Manifesto

In this podcast Shane Hastie, Lead Editor for Culture & Methods, spoke to Scott Duncan about his InfoQ book Understanding Agile Values & Principles. An Examination of the Agile Manifesto.

Key Takeaways

  • The Agile Manifesto was written as a set of values and principles for improving software development outcomes
  • There are many brands, frameworks and methodologies which were represented at the Snowbird Lightweight Methods Conference where the manifesto was written
  • The authors were looking for common ground and the four values of the manifesto represented their collective agreement on the mindset which should underly software development
  • There is a difference between doing the practices of any agile method and being agile in mindset
  • Approaches such as Modern Agile and Heart of Agile are focused on returning to the underlying philosophy with a humanistic focus and moving away from prescriptive practice adoption

Show Notes

  • 00:14 InfoQ book - Understanding Agile Values & Principles. An Examination of the Agile Manifesto
  • 00:56 Introductions
  • 02:08 Releases built using XP practices work
  • 04:09 The value of quality and testing
  • 05:02 The importance of a solid grounding in software engineering approaches
  • 06:08 Frameworks and practices without the foundation of the Agile Manifesto cause problems
  • 06:28 The danger of making process adaptations that violate the values and/or principles of the manifesto 
  • 07:21 The importance of the preamble to the manifesto – learning better ways of building software by doing it and helping others do it
  • 07:31 All 17 authors of the manifesto had done coding 
  • 08:08 What happened prior to the Snowbird meeting 
  • 08:48 The lightweight methods conference
  • 09:08 The four values were written at the Snowbird meeting, the principles took far longer and were completed remotely
  • 09:38 The manifesto is a strong statement of what was needed in the industry, humanizing and focusing on real customer value
  • 10:12 The four values of the Agile Manifesto
  • 10:43 The importance of the “over” in the wording and the value in the things on the right 
  • 11:16 Contrasting the intent the emphasis is on overcome people problems
  • 12:32 The four items on the left are the ones that really lead to success
  • 13:21 Interactions among people are what make things work well
  • 13:34 An effective team will overcome problems almost despite their environment, irrespective of their delivery method
  • 14:26 The need to not be a purist about practices 
  • 14:31 The difference between doing and being agile is in the mindset 
  • 14:40 Examples of different approaches and practices that align with the agile mindset
  • 14:57 Being agile means understanding the values and principles and trying to live those values and principles
  • 15:26 The background to the agile principles 
  • 16:21 The principles provide clarity through some ideas about how to make the values manifest in teamwork
  • 17:12 Discussing the principle of regular and frequent delivery  
  • 18:48 Variations around the concept of working software – if you’re not building software then replace that with product or solution 
  • 19:32 Experiences applying agile values and principles outside of software development
  • 20:35 The evolution of agile thinking through Modern Agile and the Heart of Agile – going back to the underlying philosophy and values
  • 22:08 Contrasting the various agile conferences and exploring the ideas with the manifesto authors
  • 23:50 Looking back to the ideas that preceded the manifesto – Deming, Lean, etc
  • 24:22 There are a lot of good ideas that are old and still valuable
  • 24:48 Deming – don’t rob people of their pride of workmanship, give them environment where they can feel satisfied in the quality of the work they do  
  • 25:02 Richard Sheridan’s approach in Joy, Inc 
  • 25:21 Give people a place where they can get things done and feel happy about their work
  • 26:02 Advice from Alistair Cockburn about finding one useful thing in any conference session 
  • 26:57 Exploring the Scrum framework and taking it back to the underlying philosophy 
  • 27:42 Referencing the Scrum Guide and how straightforward it is 
  • 28:04 The target audiences for the different scaling frameworks 
  • 28:44 It’s easy to take a framework and not do it well 
  • 29:02 We don’t spend enough time exploring the “why’s” of any framework and focus on the “do’s” 
  • 29:32 The divergence that happens from the original intent and implementation of almost any set of practices
  • 29:52 One of the risks with large frameworks is that it is easy for large organisations to think they don’t have to change much, which is not the intent of the framework authors
  • 30:48 People can mess up almost anything 
  • 30:58 Quote “tell me how I’m going to be measured and I’ll tell you how I’m going to behave”
  • 31:08 Ensure your metrics create the behaviour you want to see, and the same applies to adopting frameworks 


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