The twelve Agile principles guide implementation of Agile practices through methods such as Scrum, Kanban, SAFe, and others.
Principle 1 is that the highest priority is satisfying the customer. We need to remember that, in all we do, the desired end result is to serve the customer. For all the process improvements, cost savings, and improvements in quantifiable metrics, if we cannot satisfy the customer through our ongoing efforts we cannot truly be successful. In this sense, the term “customer” could be an internal customer, in the case of many software products that are created internally, or it could refer to the external end “customer” as well.
Principle 2 is that Agile processes harness change for the brand’s competitive advantage. Rather than change for change’s sake, this Agile principle prescribes the reason why we want to continuously improve and implement processes that allow us to modify things in the first place. Being able to adapt and change quickly gives us a competitive advantage and allows us to more easily and effectively reach our end customers.
Principle 3 is deliver working output frequently, with a preference to the shorter timescale. No more do we want to create unchangeable 12-month plans, or projects whose milestones are 6 months or more apart. Instead, this principle dictates that we want the shortest reasonable time between delivering some type of working output, so that we can assess it and improve it if needed.
Principle 4 states that business people and developers – or, in this case, marketers – must work together daily throughout the project. This means the end of creating work in a vacuum with little to no feedback from the business at large. It is important that business Stakeholders and those closest to both customers, as well as the business needs, are regularly involved in the planning and the successful implementation of a project.
Principle 5 is focused more on the teams doing the work. It is to build projects around motivated individuals. As we dive deeper into Agile and using it as a team, and across teams, we will see how collaboration is a key component of doing Agile well. Ensuring you have the right people doing the right things who are motivated to achieve success is a critical part of Agile.
Principle 6 states that the most efficient and effective method of conveying information is direct conversation. While we live in a world with remote work and hybrid work, that doesn’t mean we can’t still have direct conversations. This principle, like the one before it, highlights the importance of teamwork, and how the best approach to getting good results is to speak or communicate directly with the individuals responsible.
Principle 7 states that working output is the primary measure of progress. If you’ve ever worked alongside an Agile software engineering team, you might have heard terms like “velocity” or “story points” used to describe how they measure their work. We’ll get into some of this terminology later, but suffice it to say, as much as measuring speed or hours put into a project is important, the best way to gauge how well a team is doing is to look at what they have created that is working and “in market.”
Principle 8 states that Agile processes promote sustainable development. While the word “sustainable” means a lot of things to a lot of different people, in this context, we are referring to the ability to continue our work with the greatest amount of efficiency, least amount of waste or re-work, and the most potential for ongoing improvement.
Principle 9 states that continuous attention to technical excellence and good design enhances agility. While these principles were originally written for software engineering teams and not marketers, I’m sure you can see the correlations here. “Technical excellence” applies to marketers, just as much as engineers. For instance, how well you plan, implement and measure a marketing campaign requires technical mastery, albeit of different tools and skillsets than creating a software product might.
Likewise, “good design” could refer to the creatives associated with your marketing effort, though it could just as easily, and perhaps more appropriately in this case, apply to the processes you use to plan and launch campaigns, the way you build audience segments, and the methods you use to provide attribution for your efforts across channels.
Principle 10 states that simplicity – the art of maximizing the amount of work not done- is essential. This principle is closely related to lean principles, which often complement Agile ones. Lean principles refer to the Japanese word muda, which means “futility, uselessness, or wastefulness.” There are seven types of muda, or waste that are recognized in the lean process.
Principle 11 states that the best architectures, requirements, and designs emerge from self-organizing teams. While there are a few very specific roles in Agile, the team itself is meant to be self-organizing and this allows the flexibility inherent in the processes. Rather than being rigid or prescriptive, an Agile team can form itself to allow individuals to fill the roles they are best suited to play.
The last principle, Principle 12, states that at regular intervals, the team reflects on how to become more effective. We’ll explore this more when we talk about retrospectives later on in this course, but this idea of reflection, in order to continuously improve, is a vital one to Agile, and one that every Agile team must incorporate to be successful.