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Agile Manifesto: Core Values & 12 Principles

~13 minutes read

Table Of Contents

What is the Agile Manifesto?

Unlike other project development approaches, the Agile movement began with ideas, values, and principles that embody the mindset. Agility started when a group of innovative people got together and tried to find a different way of thinking about the problems in project management. The Agile Manifesto is known as a statement that lays the foundations of agility.

In 2001, 17 well-known personalities of the software world came together and after 2 days of work published the "Agile Software Development Manifesto" together with the Principles of Agile Software. Although the Agile Manifesto was written for agile software development, the core values apply almost directly to any agile project management. The fact that the Agile Manifesto was published by software development professionals does not mean that it is only used in the field of engineering. It is also possible to apply agility in administrative areas.

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Who wrote the Agile Manifesto?

Kent Beck James Grenning Robert C. Martin
Mike Beedle Jim Highsmith Steve Mellor
Arie van Bennekum Andrew Hunt Ken Schwaber
Alistair Cockburn Ron Jeffries Jeff Sutherland
Ward Cunningham Jon Kern Dave Thomas
Martin Fowler Brian Marick  

Instead of trying to define what Agile means, these authors of the Agile Manifesto have published 12 principles and 4 values that define what Agile focuses on. After days of discussions, this group agreed on a set of basic ideas and principles to find solutions to the software development problems they faced during their careers.

What are the four core values of the Agile Software Development Manifesto?

All agile techniques, frameworks, and models are based on these agile values. In essence, the Agile process of organizations is not only about converting their techniques to Agile techniques or simplifying their processes, moving from individual work to teamwork, leaving the cascading project management process and starting to use agile frameworks, or moving from project management to product management to develop. Here the companies should experience a cultural change in a holistic framework.

The 4 core values of the Agile Software Development Manifesto:

I. Total focus on individuals and interactions rather than processes and tools

This first value indicates that teamwork and communication should be capitalized. The team should not be forced to use only these tools while creating software systems. It is important to understand agility as a team's performance in order to gain a more comprehensive insight into the agile methodologies, practices, and tools that have become popular in the agile project management approach. Tools are an essential part of software development, but they shouldn't affect how the team interacts with each other. The team should select the tool that best fits the needs of the software development cycle and should not prevent team members from interacting with each other.

II. The focus should be on working software rather than extensive documentation.

Documentation is absolutely necessary and provides a resource and reference for users or employees who are wondering what the software is and how it works. However, an agile team should not write documents that impede progress or impose a burden greater than the value generated. Only the value should be documented.

III. The focus should be on working with the customer rather than contract negotiations.

The person who knows their own needs and can transfer them to the team is the customer. In order for the team to be able to develop successfully, it is, therefore, necessary to work closely with the customer and be in constant communication with him. Only in this way, the team can realize the most suitable developments for the needs of the end user by getting feedback from the customer.

IV. Adapting to change is more important than following a plan.

Companies that develop traditional software first start by planning the entire process. This is a very troublesome, difficult to predict, and risky business. Because over time there may be changes to the planned elements. For example, technology, business needs, and even customers can change and it is necessary to adapt to these changes. The knowledge must be applied in order to convert the learned knowledge into a skill. Talent develops when you put knowledge into practice. As talent develops, agility develops.

The core values underlying the agile techniques brought forth in the Agile Manifesto and beyond are:

➢ Honesty ➢ Openness to change ➢ Team spirit
➢ Courage ➢ Voluntary commitment ➢ Respect
➢ Customer orientation ➢ Effective communication ➢ Continuity
➢ Simplicity ➢ Efficiency ➢ Self-administration

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What are the 12 principles of the Agile Manifesto? And what does that mean?

These principles aim to better meet customer needs by making the software development process faster and more flexible. Released in 2001

The 12 principles, an agile manifesto:

1. The first priority is to ensure customer satisfaction by providing software early and continuously.

Customer satisfaction is at the top of the 12 principles when it comes to agile working. Early and continuous delivery increases the likelihood of meeting customer needs and contributes to a faster return on investment. In real life, things never go perfectly. Because the customer cannot imagine how the software will work until they have a working software, the team will have some gaps in gathering the requirements.

The customer can give extensive and rich feedback only after seeing the running software. The best way to get feedback is to get the first working version of the software to the customer as early as possible. The disadvantage of the early delivery of the software is that there are defects in the delivered software. Before delivery, the software team should fully explain the software delivery terms to the customer to avoid panic in case of missing expected features.

A collaborative team with customers, not tied to strict specifications, has the opportunity to make necessary changes throughout the process. That means continuous delivery. Agile methods should be iterated like this. The team, consisting of e.g. made up of the Scrum Master and Product Owner plans the next iterations of the software by collaborating with the customer and collecting feedback from previous iterations, and selecting features and requirements that add value to the software.

2. Changing requirements must also be met at the end of the development process and the customer's competitive advantage must not be lost.

Many successful agile teams struggle when they first encounter this principle for agile transformation. When faced with a change that requires a lot of development in the heat of the project, it becomes difficult to push through as the boss is pressed for deadlines and the team is held accountable for delays.

But meeting changing requirements is one of the agility's most powerful tools. Both the team and the customers should be aware that not everything will always work out the first time. Mistakes will happen. Nevertheless, these are quickly remedied so that the goals can be achieved.

Implementing changes at every stage of the software increases customer satisfaction as it increases the customer's competitive advantage. Due to the nature of Agile's iterative process, teams should have no problem responding to these changes in a timely manner.

3. The software should be delivered at short notice and if improvements are to continue, a short-term version should be made.

The idea of meeting changing needs is seen as interesting and helpful for projects. In fact, many teams and project managers are dissatisfied with the idea. It creates an atmosphere of chaos as it will be a difficult process for them to accept and face the changes. The way to make changes without causing chaos is to provide working software on a regular basis.

The team iterates with regular deadlines and provides working software to the customer. At the end of each iteration, the team demonstrates the improvements to the customer, and lessons are learned from the retrospective analysis of these demonstrations. Then a planning session is started to figure out what to do in the next iteration. Timed iterations allow the project manager to control the deadline to deal with late coming changes. Daily reviews and iterative retrospectives also enable early detection of serious problems in project changes.

4. The most effective way to share knowledge in a team is face-to-face.

Documentation is just one form of communication for agile teams. The purpose of creating the document is to ensure that the idea being conveyed is as accurate as possible. While documentation is a good tool, it is not the only communication tool. Face-to-face communication is a much better tool for the team to share ideas. The agile form of communication focuses on communication between people, documenting only so that detailed information can be stored. Creating a sense of community is the goal of team communication. When the team has a sense of community, they also come closer to a common point of view, and conflicts are reduced.

5. Business people and software developers should work together daily throughout the project.

In order to develop good software and to get information about the problems to be solved with the software, teams and business people often have to meet face-to-face. Since business people can do most of their work without the software, it is a small part of their business.

For business people, it would be ideal to have excellent software by holding a meeting or two with the team. Teams, on the other hand, prefer to keep in constant contact with business people in order to be able to solve certain software problems better and faster. If both sides work together on a daily basis throughout the project, productivity will be significantly higher as feedback is received faster and changes and improvements are made faster based on that feedback.

6. Only build projects with motivated people and give them the environment and support they need.

The project is best completed when everyone in the company and team understands that the software being developed is valuable. On the other hand, projects fail when the value of the software is not recognized and the developers are not rewarded. If everyone gets the support they need in a motivated team environment, the project will be successful.

7. Working software is the primary measure of progress.

Delivering functional software to the customer is the ultimate measure of progress. If the result doesn't meet the client's expectations, the team has a big problem.

8. Agile processes to support a consistent pace of development

Sticking to a demanding, fast-release schedule can be exhausting for a team. Especially when expectations are set too high. Agile principles encourage taking this into account and setting realistic, clear expectations. The idea is to keep morale high and improve work-life balance to prevent burnout and turnover among members of cross-functional teams.

9. Constant focus on technical excellence and good design increases agility.

In the long run, it's easier to avoid a mistake early than to fix it later. Well-designed code is also easy to maintain as it is designed to be easily extended. Many innovations in recent years, such as object-oriented design and analysis, design models, and decoupled and service-oriented architectures have contributed to technical excellence in software projects.

Rather than creating large-scale designs at the start of each project, Agile teams develop coding habits that help them create well-designed code. The team looks for problems in their designs and coding, and when they find them, they spend project time solving those problems and building a codebase that's easy to maintain in the future.

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

Adding more code based on the code in an existing software project adds complexity to the existing code. Dependencies between systems, objects, and services add complexity to the code, and when a change is desired, that change requires another change, so the complexity gradually triggers each other. Maximizing the number of tasks means avoiding this clutter.

Trying to add to the existing code with each iteration will hurt the project more than deleting the code and writing a new one. The cost of maintaining additional code is higher than deleting and writing new code. Therefore, a team should be able to keep code simpler and more maintainable by designing software that consists of small, self-contained units with a single function.

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

Teams that plan a lot in advance often have complex designs. In a self-organizing team, there are no specific requirements and design phases. The team organizes itself to plan the project and for this, they often come together, break the project into small parts according to their functions and start to evolve from the parts that could be most valuable to the company.

As soon as development starts, the team starts thinking about the requirements, design, and architecture in detail. In this process, the project architects in the Agile team develop incremental design projects using techniques that help the team design a system that may change over time, rather than trying to create one large design to meet all requirements at the beginning of the project to fulfill.

12. Periodically, the team evaluates how they can become more effective and then refines their work accordingly.

A team can be agile if it continuously improves its software development methods. Agile teams constantly check how the project works and use the knowledge gained from this for later improvements. When the team meets each day, they look for ways to improve and change, and if the idea makes sense, they start making changes immediately. The only way to be more successful as a team is to evaluate the work the team has done so far and plan for further improvements.


In summary, it can be said that the Agile Manifesto is an important basis for agile methods in project management. The core values and principles of the manifesto provide orientation and help to work together effectively and successfully in a team.

If you want to learn more about how to implement the Agile Manifesto in your work, you should visit our Scaled Agile Framework page. There you will find various SAFe courses, including our "Leading SAFe" course, which teaches you the basics of SAFe and prepares you for the SAFe Agile certification.

And if you are also interested in other IT topics, we offer a wide range of training courses and certifications on our "Academy" page that can help you to expand your knowledge and skills in different areas. Have a look and discover the possibilities that are available to you!


Manifesto for Agile Software Development. (n.d.). Agile Manifesto.

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