Each of the 12 Agile principles is important, and sometimes it is difficult to focus or pursue each principle individually. Although practitioners approach the principles with the desire to implement all 12, from their perspective, there are too many principles to handle. So, I encourage my teams to primarily focus on two of the principles: “Working software is our primary measure of success” and “Our highest priority is satisfying the customer through early and continuous delivery of valuable software.”
I am not proposing that these two principles are more important than the other 10, as they are all equally important. By having principles that stress a type of measurement or priority, teams can answer what their priority is and whether they are successful. These two questions should have specific responses, leaving no room for misunderstanding or ambiguity. At the same time, these two questions should lead to other conversations.
If the primary measure of success is working software, then our highest priority is satisfying the customer through early and continuous delivery of valuable working software. This makes a lot of sense, because customers cannot use broken software. However, when the team asks how frequent is “early and continuous,” the Agile coach or ScrumMaster should indicate from a couple of weeks to a couple of months, preferably the shorter timescale. This work is expansive in that the first two principles of focus become three in the process. The Agile coach or ScrumMaster should continue the development process by following the next principle, “Agile processes promote sustainable development.” Whichever timescale is chosen, we as a team of motivated, trusted individuals with the correct environment and support needed to get the job done, should be able to maintain a constant pace indefinitely.
Now a discussion has been formed, and we have introduced the fourth and fifth principles. Continuing forward, it’s essential to stress to the team the level at which they are entrusted. Articulate your expectations for the best architectures, requirements, and designs to emerge from their self-organization. While they work together with business people daily through efficient and effective methods of conveying information (such as face-to-face), they will deliver simple flexible solutions. These solutions stem from continuous attention to technical excellence and good design, and even allow changes to requirements late in development that will enhance the customer’s competitiveness.
Finally, encourage the team that while they are delivering this valuable working software to their customer, they should reflect, tune, and adjust throughout the process so that they may become more effective. Help them understand that if they keep the initial two Agile principles in their sight, the other 10 will be successfully incorporated.