Introduction to Agile

“Our highest priority is to satisfy the customer through early and continuous delivery of valuable software”

This is Principle 1, out of 12 Principles from the Agile Manifesto. I have highlighted this one because I belive that it starts with a good definition and a clear idea of who our customers are.

How well do we know our Customer?

What does it mean that our highest priority is to satisfy the customer? How well do we know our customer?

Many Scrum or Agile teams don´t know who their customer is, they keep on doing agile ceremonies and practices and in many cases there is too much distance between the team and the customer, specially in large organizations I have seen this happen in teams. But – if the customer is not involved, how do we know we are delivering the right thing?

To be able to deliver the right thing we must have a clear definition of what our Product or Service is.

I believe we need to have a clear definition of our Product or Service and continuously deliver value through these. If the product definition is unclear it is going to be hard to prioritize and it is also going to be difficult to understand what value is for our customer. Before our customer is using what we have developed it is just a hypothesis, we believe that we are going to deliver value, but we don`t know for sure until our customer has provided feedback from their own use and experience.

The Agile Manifesto

The Agile Manifesto  states a different way of thinking a –  Mindset

A  mindset is defined as a set of assumptions, methods or beliefs held by one or more people or groups of people. It comes from how a person view the world, or an individuals world philosopy.  When a mindset is established people will behave, make choices or choose specific tools based on their beliefs, which means that it will influence how they solve their tasks. When we believe something our attitude towards “that something” is that it is true. (ref. wiki)

When we look at the Agile Manifesto, we see that it is actually about beliefs and mindset. Which is also why we have the 12 principles. They serve as a foundation for our beliefs and behaviors.

In Agile, we see these principles as fundamental assumptions or even truth. Beliefs are generally formed by our experiences and we all have different experiences. Beliefs are also formed by what other tells us to be true. If our education or even more powerful, our experience taught us mastery of all elements on the right hand side of the Agile Manifesto and we are no longer going to use this competency in the same way, it is going to require some change. Basically, our belief-system must change. We need to re-wire ourselves in how we behave, make choices and choose specific tools.

We basically need to learn new ways of interacting and working with individuals, we need to deliver software and learn from doing rather than documentation and we need to establish partnerships and remove barriers to have the trusting relationship needed to be able to respond to change.

How synchronized are your beliefs and values with your actions?

Values and beliefs influence how we act and many of us are unaware of how much this influences us.

If we, for example –  believe that we are all leaders independent of where we are in an organization we will probably take responsibility in a completely different way than if we believe that we have to wait until someone tells us what to do.

If you haven`t already read the Agile Manifesto or it has been a while since last time, I highly recommend a visit to this page and reflect on the questions below.

Questions for reflection

  • What are your beliefs and how are they reflected in the way you behave, make choices and choose tools?
  • Are your beliefs aligned with the Agile values and principles as stated in the manifesto?
  • Are you aware of which behaviors, choices and tools that helps enforce and strengthen the Agile Values and principles?

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