The Principles Behind the Agile Manifesto and Integral Theory

In my last post, on the Agile Manifesto and Integral Theory, I showed how the four values of the Agile Manifesto:

Individuals and Interactions over processes and tools

Working software over comprehensive documentation

Customer collaboration over contract negotiation

Responding to change over following a plan

could be explained through Integral Theory as a shift from traditional project management, which favored values of the collective exterior (SYSTEMS shown on the left right such as processes, tools, plans, etc.) over the values of the other three quadrants.   Agile shifts some of the values towards the other quadrants, especially those that deal with relationships between individuals (the CULTURAL values shown on the lower left).


These shifts to the values of the other quadrants are even more important if you look at the twelve principles behind the agile manifesto, as stated in Figure 2-2 on p. 9 of the Agile Practice Guide.   I have listed the values that seem to be most closely aligned to each principle, although in some cases there may be more than one.

  1. Our highest priority is to satisfy the customer through early and continuous delivery of valuable software.   WORKING SOFTWARE, CUSTOMER COLLABORATION
  2. Welcome changing requirements, even late in development.  Agile processes harness change for the customer’s competitive advantage.   RESPONDING TO CHANGE
  3. Deliver working software frequently from a couple of weeks to a couple of months, with a preference to the shorter timescale.  WORKING SOFTWARE, CUSTOMER COLLABORATION
  4. Business people and developers must work together daily throughout the project.  INDIVIDUALS AND INTERACTIONS
  5. Build projects around motivated individuals.  Give them the environment and support they need, and trust them to get the job done.   INDIVIDUALS AND INTERACTIONS
  6. The most efficient and effective method of conveying information to and within a development team is face-to-face conversation.  INDIVIDUALS AND INTERACTIONS
  7. Working software is the primary measure of progress.  WORKING SOFTWARE
  8. Agile processes promote sustainable development.  The sponsors, developers, and users should be able to maintain a constant pace indefinitely.   INDIVIDUALS AND INTERACTIONS.
  9. Continuous attention to technical excellence and good design enhances agility.   WORKING SOFTWARE
  10. Simplicity–the art of maximizing the amount of work not done–is essential.   WORKING SOFTWARE
  11. The best architectures, requirements, and designs emerge from self-organizing teams.  INDIVIDUALS AND INTERACTIONS
  12. At regular intervals, the team reflects on how to become more effective, then tunes and adjusts its behavior accordingly.  RESPONDING TO CHANGE

On p. 10, it states that “although originating in the software industry, these principles have since spread to many other industries.

Let me give an example.   Look at principle no. 12, “At regular intervals, the team reflects on how to become more effective, then tunes and adjusts its behavior accordingly.”   In the fifth edition of the PMBOK Guide, there was a process called Lessons Learned which captured the lessons learned on a project at the END of a project, where the team reflects on how to become more effective on FUTURE projects.   Because of agile, the team did that reflection at several intervals DURING The course of the project, to the point that, in the sixth edition of the PMBOK Guide, that same Lessons Learned process is done DURING the project at regular intervals.   So this is an example of how agile practices have spread to how projects are done even in traditional settings.

These agile practices now include several agile approaches and agile methods which I will describe in the next post.


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