Skip main navigation

What are the Agile principles?

In this step, we explore the 12 principles of agile as described in the manifesto that are important for understanding the agile mindset.

The 12 principles described in the manifesto are important for understanding the Agile mindset.

You have already been introduced to the four values of the Agile Manifesto, but the principles are a bit more descriptive guidelines, which help us make decisions through our daily Agile activities.

12 Agile principles

Let’s take a look at these principles:

The first six principles of agile including early delivery of the product, adapt to change, frequent delivery, business and developers cooperation, motivated individuals, and face-to-face interaction (Take a closer look)

The last six principles of agile including working software, maintain a constant pace, technical brilliance, simplicity, teams self-organization, regular reflection and adjustment (Take a closer look)

An accessible document is also available in the downloads section below.
It is one thing to know what the 12 principles are, but it is also important to understand how each one of these principles can add value to an organization.
The 12 Agile principles are important and help to give a foundation to Agile and help you to really understand what makes up an agile mindset. They form the guiding principles for the Agile methodologies and describe the culture in which change is welcome, and the customer is the focus of the work.

Delivering something of value

The first, third, and seventh principles are tied to the second value, the idea of delivering something of value to customers quickly. The goal of any company is to deliver something of value to its customers and the more often that value can be delivered, the more successful the company will be.

Ability to change direction quickly

The second principle is tied to the fourth value, namely being able to change direction quickly. A good example is a comparison of Netflix with Blockbuster. Both Netflix and Blockbuster were looking into the ability to stream video, but Blockbuster wasn’t able to implement it as quickly as Netflix. When was the last time you saw a Blockbuster store?

Concept of a team

The fourth, fifth, and sixth principles all relate to the concept of a team. In his book Drive, author Daniel Pink talks about how autonomy, mastery, and purpose motivate people. A high-performing team must be given the autonomy to decide how the work gets done, the mastery (skills) needed to do the work, and a sense of purpose in the form of a strong product vision from the product owner.
The team must be closely connected to the customer so they understand what the customer values. The feedback they receive from the customer will help drive the direction of the product. The team also has to take time to reflect on their processes and should have a continuous improvement mindset.

Team’s pace

The eighth principle addresses the team’s pace. There have been a number of studies done recently where organizations have reduced the amount of time people work and found that productivity actually increased.
Other studies have shown that working longer hours and longer days does not result in higher output. You might find the following resources interesting:

The KISS principle

Principles 9, 10, and 11 address the more technical aspects of the work. One of the principles developed as part of the Lockheed SkunkWorks program was the KISS principle, ‘keep it simple, stupid.’ Keep in mind that this group was building some of the most advanced airplanes in the world.

Regular reflection for continuous improvement

Finally the last principle, but perhaps the most important one is that the team needs to step back and look at how they are performing the work and make adjustments to be more effective. This idea is often referred to as Kaizenand is key in lean manufacturing.

While many see the 2001 Manifesto for Agile Software Development as the starting point for Agile, it has a history that goes back much further. Regardless of the history, the values and principles penned in 2001 have formed the foundation for every successful Agile team since that time.

Considering all that you have learned so far around the Agile Manifesto, values, and principles, let’s head on over to the next step, and discuss these principles in more detail.

This article is from the free online

Agile for Beginners

Created by
FutureLearn - Learning For Life

Reach your personal and professional goals

Unlock access to hundreds of expert online courses and degrees from top universities and educators to gain accredited qualifications and professional CV-building certificates.

Join over 18 million learners to launch, switch or build upon your career, all at your own pace, across a wide range of topic areas.

Start Learning now