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The Agile principles

In this article, learn about Agile's 12 principles that assist you in aligning your everyday activities when working on a project.

As noted in the last video, Agile has 12 principles that assist you in aligning your everyday activities when working on a project. Let’s go through each of them.

  1. Focus on customer satisfaction through the continuous and early delivery of a product or service. This means delivering value faster across the entire project – not waiting until the end, as with the waterfall method. This could be a feature or improvement every few weeks. Allowing customers to not only see progress but also provide valuable feedback keeps them engaged and encourages a co-design process.
  2. Adapt and encourage change. Use these opportunities to ensure a competitive advantage for the customer. An Agile team must always be thinking about ways to improve both the service and product for the customer, no matter how late you are in the process. The Agile approach allows the project to evolve and meet the ever-growing needs of the customer and market. In contrast, the waterfall approach demands a fixed project plan agreed upon before starting the project.
  3. Deliver progress early. Create frequent prototypes within short time frames – not a mock-up, but an actual functioning product. This allows the customers to interact with the product and provide real feedback, allowing the customer to experience the product. This adds value to their business.
  4. Work together. We’re talking about collaboration between the customer, developer, manufacturer, and user. This means removing the barriers between departments and allowing the developer to interact with the source. Agile removes the layers of communication that may exist, like with waterfall, for example. This approach adds value to the business.
  5. Build projects around self-motivated individuals. Provide the environment and let these individuals self-manage and progress the project. This collaborative approach allows the project to organically evolve and change, thus providing freedom and creating value.
  6. Communicate and collaborate daily. Short, regular daily interactions that provide clarity allow everyone to know what the immediate requirements are.
  7. Ensure constant value is provided. This is the primary measure of progress and takes precedence over analysis. Being able to experience a working model is what will provide the most value to the business.
  8. Set a sustainable pace of work. Be aware of the team’s capability to work at a constant pace for an indefinite period of time. You need to consider expectations, time, work rate, and quality of output.
  9. Pay attention to high technical skills. Embrace excellence across all facets of the project. Good design enhances agility and makes future improvements easy to put in place. Functionality supported by technical excellence increases both current and future value.
  10. Embrace simplicity and good design. Maximise the amount of work not done. Think about the desired outcome. Build less and deliver more value to the customer.
  11. Build self-organising teams. Individuals within these teams have a unique set of skills. These individuals are enlisted if available and are involved on a temporary or permanent basis.
  12. Reflect regularly. This allows for constant change and greater understanding of the team’s work. Agile encourages regular reflection. In contrast, with waterfall, this generally only occurs at the end of the project. The Agile approach thereby provides more opportunities for improvement and adds value.

Sketch the principles

To help make the principles stick, carry out this short exercise:

  • Take a large piece of paper – at least A4 – or open up your preferred sketching tool.
  • For each of the 12 principles, write the title of the principle alongside a quick sketch interpretation of what this principle means to you.
  • Not too sure about your sketching skills? Don’t worry. Just sketch what you can: the purpose is to force yourself to interpret each of the exercises, which will help you remember and embody them in your practice. If you really can’t sketch, or want an alternative exercise, write down a sentence or two in your own words about what the principle means, avoiding using the words in the original definitions above.
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