Sunday, May 19, 2024

What does the 6th Agile Principle (Face-to-Face Conversation) look like in Action?

 Many want to go Agile or claim to be Agile. The question is, will you align with the Agile values and principles? In this article, I expand on the sixth principle to better understand what it means and attempt to identify what evidence looks like to determine if a culture change may be occurring. What is this principle?  

The most efficient and effective method of conveying information to and within a development team is face-to-face conversation. Agile puts a premium on face-to-face communication. Because of the nonverbal cues built into communication, there is a benefit of harvesting visual cues during interpersonal interactions. Face-to-face discussion improves the overall communication experience and understanding. From an Agile perspective, a team (about seven people +/-) should be as collocated as reasonable or use technology to emulate face-to-face interaction as much as possible. 

With communication comes the importance of listening. Listening means hearing and understanding what the other is saying and what they are not saying (hence the importance of nonverbal cues). Face-to-face also helps with understanding silence. Is silence due to a lack of understanding, not being engaged, or other reasons? Face-to-face nonverbal cues can help probe the reason. Another aspect of collaboration is being assertive. Quietly listening does not lead to building ideas. Therefore, communication is a balance between being a collaborative speaker and a respectful listener. With this in mind, what tangible actions exhibit promoting face-to-face communication? 

  • A team is collocated or, if not, then when meeting, the cameras are on.
  • Teams are kept small (about seven +/-).
  • Conference rooms or team rooms are available for face-to-face conversation.
  • Technologies are used to emulate face-to-face discussion whenever collocation is not possible.
  • Whiteboards in the collocated team room or technologies used to emulate whiteboards as means to visualize, brainstorm, and collaborate on topics.
  • Listening and collaboration skills are emphasized.

It is up to you to determine what supporting evidence looks like when a company believes in face-to-face communication and the advantages it brings. It is worth experimenting with this as it will help you better understand and embrace the Agile principles. The ultimate question is, do you believe in the benefits of face-to-face conversations?

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Learn more about what other Agile Principles look like in action:


Friday, April 19, 2024

What does the 5th Agile Principle (Motivated Individuals who are Trusted) look like in Action?

Many want to go Agile or claim to be Agile. The question is, will you align with the Agile values and principles? In this article, I expand on the fifth principle to better understand what it means and attempt to identify what evidence looks like to determine if a culture change may be occurring. What is this principle?  

Build projects around motivated individuals. Give them the environment and support they need, and trust them to get the job done. Agile recognizes providing employees with ownership of their work can increase engagement, productivity, and happiness. There are strategies to get employees engaged, continually educated, and building on their strengths. Management values employee opinions, appreciates them, and trusts that they can get the work done. 


With communication comes the importance of listening. Listening means hearing and understanding what the other is saying and what they are not saying (hence the importance of nonverbal cues). Face-to-face also helps with understanding silence. Is silence due to a lack of understanding, not being engaged, or other reasons? Face-to-face nonverbal cues can help probe the reason. Another aspect of collaboration is being assertive. Quietly listening does not lead to building ideas. Therefore, communication is a balance between being a collaborative speaker and a respectful listener. With this in mind, what tangible actions exhibit promoting face-to-face communication?

  • Teams have the ability to make decisions, such as how to complete and size their own work.
  • Management trusts team decisions and minimizes command and control.
  • Teams are kept whole and members are treated like people, not fungible resources.
  • Management provides transparency in decision making.
  • Management provides organizational goals such as employee engagement. 
  • The PO provides release and sprint goals.
  • Team members demonstrate their working software during sprint reviews.
  • The Scrum Master provides a servant–leader approach.

It is up to you to determine what supporting evidence looks like when a company believes in motivating individuals and trusting them to get the job done. It is worth experimenting with this as it will help you better understand and embrace the Agile principles. The ultimate question is, do you believe that business and development should work continuously together as a team?

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Learn more about what other Agile Principles look like in action:

Thursday, March 14, 2024

What does the 4th Agile Principle (Business and Development Work Together) look like in Action?

Many want to go Agile or claim to be Agile. The question is, are you and will you align with the Agile values and principles? In this article, I expand on the fourth principle to better understand what it means and attempt to identify what evidence looks like to determine if a culture change may be occurring. What is this principle?  

Business people and developers must work together daily throughout the project. Agile attempts to bring an understanding of business value to the development team and the technical choices and challenges to the business side. To do this, it attempts to integrate business and development as one team. In traditional approaches, there is often little interaction between the business (e.g., product management, sales, and marketing) and development (aka, cross-functional technical team). On the business side, this may be the Product Manager or Business Owner. Scrum introduces the Product Owner (PO) role and XP introduces the Customer role as the bridge between the customer and the development team. These roles allow for a closer embodiment of the business and development team spirit and avoid fiefdoms and throwing work “over the wall” from one group to another with little interaction. 

The intent is to make a sincere effort to build a collaborative and amicable yet productive relationship between business and development. Development benefits from a better understanding of what the customer finds valuable. The business side benefits because development will ask for details that the business may not have thought about. In both cases, the result is a product that more closely aligns with what the customer finds valuable. What actions and evidence exhibit business people and developers working together?

  • An established and productive relationship between business/customers and development
  • A dedicated business owner who works continuously with the development team. 
  • Development comprises a cross-functional team with developers, testers, technical writers, designers, and so on. 
  • The business owner with the development team work together during iterative planning to build a mutual understanding of the requirements of what to build. 
  • The development team demos the working product to the business owner and customers to gain feedback to better align with customer value. 
  • The development team can reach out to the business owner whenever needed throughout the project lifecycle.   

It is up to you to determine what supporting evidence will highlight that continuous integration, build, test, and frequent delivery is occurring. It is worth experimenting with this as it will help you better understand and embrace the Agile principles. The ultimate question is, do you believe that business and development should work continuously together as a team?

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To learn more about what the Agile Principles look like in Action, consider reading:


Monday, February 19, 2024

What does the 3rd Agile Principle (Frequent Delivery) look like in Action?

Many want to go Agile or claim to be Agile. The question is, are you and will you align with the Agile values and principles? In this article, I expand on the third principle to better understand what it means and attempt to identify what evidence looks like to determine if a culture change may be occurring. What is this principle?  

Deliver working software frequently, from a couple of weeks to a couple of months, with a preference to the shorter timescale is the third Agile principle. This principle promotes the ability that when customers believe there is value in what is built, it can be immediately delivered. Identifying the elusive customer value means you can release it when the customer wants it. If it is delivered too early, the customer may not be ready for it; if it is too late, the market opportunity is missed. 

Agile thinking includes a fluid world, where changes are continuous welcome, and teams have the capability of releasing frequently. This ability to frequently release, highlights the importance of having processes and infrastructure to help with continuous integration, build, and test. This ability assumes a level of automation that needs to be in place. Automated testing increases the possibility of testing the functionality as is reasonable, including the capability of performing non-functional testing such as performance testing, load testing, and more. 

What actions exhibit frequent delivery?  
  • An established and positive relationship with customers
  • Iterative framework with Sprint Reviews to incorporate feedback quickly 
  • A release capability to incrementally and rapidly deploy software 
  • Continuous integration supported by a merging process and configuration management system 
  • A continuous build process supported by an automated build management system 
  • Test automation infrastructure that can support continuous testing  
It is up to you to determine what supporting evidence will highlight that continuous integration, build, test, and frequent delivery is occurring. It is worth experimenting with this as it will help you better understand and embrace the Agile principles. The ultimate question, do you really believe in the principle that focuses on frequent delivery?

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To learn more about what the Agile Principles look like in Action, consider reading:

Tuesday, January 16, 2024

What does the 2nd Agile Principle (Welcome Change to Requirements) look like in Action?

Many want to go Agile or claim to be Agile. The question is, are you and will you really align with the Agile values and principles?  To better understand what this means, I dissected the Principles to better discover the intentions behind them and what behaviors they entail. In this article, I expand on the second Principle to better understand what it means and to attempt to model how to marshal supporting evidence that a culture change may be occurring.  

Welcome changing requirements, even late in development. Agile processes harness change for the customer’s competitive advantage is the second Agile principle. From an Agile perspective, you embrace change to increase the chances of delivering value to the customer. You embrace change because you understand that change is necessary as customer needs, market conditions, and general demand change over time. 

Welcoming change implies several qualities. The first is that there is a positive attitude toward change from the team and management. The second is that while change ideas are admitted, they are methodically prioritized based on customer value along with existing requirements. The third is that there is a process that allows prioritized changes to flow without obstruction.

What actions may exhibit “welcoming change to requirements”? Some evidence includes:  

  • The PO continually engages with the customer to identify new requirements or changes to existing requirements. 
  • A methodical review of the change idea occurs to determine the priority amongst the existing requirements.
  • No person or process restricts incoming change ideas. 
  • The backlog is continually refined and reprioritized. 
  • Increment Planning and/or Sprint Planning is applied to introduce the newly prioritized requirements. 
  • Continuous customer engagement via customer visits and sprint reviews are applied. 

It is up to you to determine what supporting evidence will highlight that a culture change is occurring. It is worth experimenting with this as it will help you better understand and embrace the Agile principles. The ultimate question, if you really believe in this principle is, do you welcome change?

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To learn about what evidence might look like to support the 1st Agile Principle (aka, Satisfying Customer with Valuable Software), consider reading: https://cmforagile.blogspot.com/2023/09/many-want-to-go-agile-or-claim-to-be.html