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Agile 101: Understanding the 12 Fundamental Principles

Agile principles are a set of values and practices that guide the development and delivery of software in an iterative and incremental way. They were first outlined in the Agile Manifesto, a document created by a group of software developers in 2001 as a response to traditional, rigid software development methodologies. An infographic image of 4 people working while standing around a table that looks like a puzzle

The agile principles, also known as the "Agile Manifesto Values" or the "Agile Manifesto Principles," are:

  1. Individuals and interactions over processes and tools: The focus is on the people involved in the project, rather than the tools and processes being used. Collaboration and communication are key.

  2. Working software over comprehensive documentation: The priority is on producing functional software, rather than spending a lot of time creating detailed documentation.

  3. Customer collaboration over contract negotiation: The customer is an active participant in the development process, rather than being a passive recipient of the final product.

  4. Responding to change over following a plan: The project team is flexible and adaptable, able to respond to changes in requirements or priorities as they arise.

  5. Deliver working software frequently, with a preference for shorter timescales.

  6. Stakeholders and developers must work together daily throughout the project.

  7. Measure progress primarily through working software.

  8. Working software is the primary measure of progress.

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

  10. Simplicity – the art of maximising the amount of work not done – is essential.

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

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

These principles are intended to be guiding, rather than prescriptive. They provide a framework for teams to approach software development in a way that is more responsive to the needs of the customer and the constantly changing nature of the software industry.

One of the key practices associated with agile principles is the use of short, iterative development cycles, known as "sprints." In a sprint, a team sets a goal for what they want to accomplish in a short period of time (usually one to four weeks), and then works to complete that goal within the sprint. This allows the team to continuously deliver value to the customer, rather than waiting until the end of a long development cycle to deliver a finished product.

Generally, the agile principles are designed to promote collaboration, flexibility, and rapid delivery in software development, and have been widely adopted by organisations around the world.

In conclusion, the 12 principles of agile offer a framework for successful project management and continuous improvement. By prioritising individuals and interactions, working solutions, and responding to change, teams can deliver high-quality products and services efficiently and effectively. By embracing the agile mindset and incorporating these principles into your work, you can foster a culture of collaboration, innovation, and adaptability.

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