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Our Agile Principles

We have come to understand that Agile is about making decisions that promote and improve Agility.

Every decision we make is influenced by our experience, and our principles and values.  In our journey to become more Agile, we sometimes have to unlearn deeply held values built from our experience, and we have to explicitly invoke new principles, which we eventually internalise.

To support the Agile Manifesto in 2001, the authors articulated a set of principles for software development, which have stood the test of time remarkably well.  Many have tried to improve on the Manifesto and the principles, but few if any have succeeded.

We don't do software development, so we rethought our own agile principles for general management.  We don't claim these principles are new or innovative - you may have seen similar ideas before.  But these are the ones that seem to work best for us.  We are still refining and distilling our principles, but here are our Agile current principles:  



Outcomes over route

A clear committed view of the customer's value based outcomes is top of the agenda and essential to drive and govern change – the route is negotiable

Direction over design

We pay less attention to designing a detailed solution, and more attention to the direction we want to go

Now over later

We focus on what can be done now to realise value, rather than what might be useful in two years time 

Flexibility over certainty

The project structure is flexible and adaptable – we have to operate with uncertainty and be able to adapt to new business drivers, changing circumstances and new opportunities, using the resources immediately available.

Incremental over completeness

Change, and value, are delivered in incremental steps – with a strong emphasis on getting change live, “learning as we go” from good and bad experience, and hunting out further benefits.

Iterative over decomposition

We use an iterative “deliver – operate - review - learn cycle” that is key to navigating through the change work with a key dependency on measuring and proving results.

Fixed time/cost over fixed requirement

Change work is time boxed, and rapid continuous steps of change will be delivered frequently (weeks rather than months).  Build a working solution within the business case to get benefits flowing.

“Good enough” over perfection

We apply the lean model of “just enough” or “least necessary” to realise the value, and avoid wasting effort on “niceties in the solution”.  

Empowerment over directives

We encourage self organising empowered teams to deliver change.  Teams are empowered to make decisions; good leadership from above ensures the teams make the right decisions.

Resolve over assume

Act early to resolve issues one way or another rather than carry the uncertainty of assumptions and risks

Human contact over digital dialogue

Face to face communication and regular (daily) dialogue with team and stakeholders is more effective, not just at communicating the immediate message, but also at building common understandings, and highlighting areas of misunderstanding


We'll keep refining these principles, as we learn more from our work with clients.