top of page

After 20 Years, the Agile Manifesto Stands the Test of Time

February 2021 marked the 20th anniversary of the Agile Manifesto, a foundational statement built on four agile values and twelve agile principles of software development. While this milestone may not seem so significant, especially to those outside of the IT sector, it shows the strength of the original manifesto. It has held the test of time and shows that at the heart of technology, people still matter. Now that the Agile Manifesto has survived into another decade, we wanted to reflect on the manifesto and see the expansion and evolution over the years.

When looking at the values and the principles during its inception, we see that small software teams were the focus at the time it was written, but with subtle wording changes the same values and principles fit much larger teams and organizations and many domains outside of IT. The word “software” is only mentioned four times across these 16 ideas and even then, each of the values and principles can easily be translated into scenarios across any number of business sectors.

Four Agile Values:

  • Individuals and interactions over processes and tools

  • Working software over comprehensive documentation

  • Customer collaboration over contract negotiation

  • Responding to change over following a plan

Twelve Agile Principles:

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

  2. Welcome changing requirements, even late in development. Agile processes harness change for the customer’s competitive advantage.

  3. Deliver working software frequently, from a couple of weeks to a couple of months, with a preference to the shorter timescale.

  4. Business people and developers must work together daily throughout the project.

  5. Build projects around motivated individuals. Give them the environment and support they need, and trust them to get the job done.

  6. The most efficient and effective method of conveying information to and within a development team is face-to-face conversation.

  7. Working software is the primary measure of progress.

  8. Agile processes promote sustainable development. The sponsors, developers, and users should be able to maintain a constant pace indefinitely.

  9. Continuous attention to technical excellence and good design enhances agility.

  10. Simplicity — the art of maximizing the amount of work not done — is essential.

  11. The best architectures, requirements, and designs emerge from self-organizing teams.

  12. At regular intervals, the team reflects on how to become more effective, then tunes and adjusts its behavior accordingly.

When helping organizations improve their agility, we often focus on the intent and concepts in the manifesto and see how those apply across the organization. By focusing on the heart of the manifesto, we can apply those roots and multiple sources of knowledge around agility to find the path forward for all types of teams within large organizations.

The world has changed dramatically in the past 20 years, but the agile manifesto has held strong. At the same time, it has inspired much debate around the growth and scaling of agility. While the manifesto may no longer be 'new', there are still many organizations that are early in their journey towards agility and many more that are trying to expand and scale the concepts of agility within their organizations. For organizations, being successful in this changing world is often driven by their ability to adapt more than other factors. Having a solid foundation in the values and principles from the Agile Manifesto can help drive that ability to adapt, especially when we expand the application of the manifesto to areas beyond IT or software development.

We know that change is challenging, but by uncovering better ways of working and helping others to do so, an organization can adapt and succeed in a changing world. These values are at the heart of our Business Agility 360 model, and we would love to be your guide on the agility journey and help you adapt your teams and organization to succeed.

- Beth Hatter

Director of Agile Training


bottom of page