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What is the Agile Manifesto? A Complete Guide

A few years back, when I started coaching a team on Scrum, as always, I started with the Agile Manifesto which gives us the Agile Values. I explained how the manifesto guides all the paradigms for Agile ways and helps us to determine the best course of action for being agile.  After explaining the principles, I moved on to explain Scrum and started talking about the Scrum Values.

Bang came to a question – “Ramesh, just now you explained to us about Agile Values and you also mentioned that Scrum is one of the specific Agile frameworks. How could the values be different then?”  
“They are all the same”.  “Then why are you giving us Values under each one?”

This is a query that often comes during training sessions. Not only that, learners and practitioners, get even more curious when they learn about Kanban Values, XP Values, and so on and so forth.

The answer to this becomes clearer when we realize that Scrum, XP, and several other software development methods were practiced even before the Agile manifesto came into existence; the Values in the Manifesto were trying to find a common ground among these. Kanban got built on top of the Agile Values. Each of these frameworks emphasized more the values of the context under which the software was getting built or supported.

They are not different. For example, XP provided high technical rigor to the software development keeping the creators of the software in mind (people orientation). Scrum provides a disciplined habit to take rapid feedback from the end user or the customer. Kanban tries to bring order into disorder by improving visibility and improving continuously.

Values provide the paradigm or the way we approach the problem and arrive at the solution. For example, if are driving down a busy road having a lot of people on the road, the Safety of the people is prime. But if you are driving on a highway, your own safety becomes a high priority. Does that mean if you can drive on a highway just keeping your safety on your mind and not the occasional stray animal or a person who crosses your way?  
The Value remains the same – Safety. But the way it is applied differs in each of these cases.

To reiterate again, the reference point or the fundamental block for any Agile process is the Agile Values as stated in the Agile Manifesto. Whatever is being spoken of as a Value for a specific method should be seen as an offshoot of the base.

As per the 15th Annual State of Agile report, Scrum, Kanban, XP, or a combination of these account for the bulk of the adoptions across the world. So, I try to map only these to the Agile Values and keep the intent of these processes as stated in their artifacts.

These are based on my understanding and opinions could differ, so I would encourage you to question these and understand in a way that appeals to you.

Scrum has 5 values. The values exhort all team members to focus on the Sprint goals, commit to team goals, respect each other, keep up the spirit of openness, and have the courage to do right.

Kanban has 9 fundamental values. It approaches Change by understanding and agreeing to the current status of the team, first. It keeps up the Customer focus and applies the lean principle of flow (reducing delays), transparency of all work, and balance (by controlling WIP). The team needs to collaborate with external and internal stakeholders and respect each other. Fostering Leadership at every level challenges the status quo.

XP is more focused on its values primarily on people and teamwork. So its values emphasize Communication, Respect, Courage among team members and providing feedback, and keeping things simple. The last two to ensure excellence in the technical deliverables.

Let me try now to map all these in one place. It would help to go through the base documents of all these frameworks, so that one can know the intent of these and under what context these are applied.

We should always remember, that once you internalize these Values, you need not really recall each time what they are. Your fundamental behavior and actions will automatically reflect these Values all the time.

agile manifesto

As we can see almost all these values align with each other and with the Agile Manifesto. The emphasis is slightly different based on the nature of the problem area and the expected result.