The Twelfth Principle
“the four values and eleven of the twelve Agile principles do not address the wider organization at all.”
This is one of the key reasons why so many Agile adoptions (circa 80%) fail to deliver on the Agile promise.
I have this weeks added my name to the list of signatories at 12thprinciple.org. Not because I totally and wholeheartedly embrace the “Twelfth Principle” in its current form. But because I wish to lend support to the idea that it’s the wider organisational context that utterly determines whether any kind of progressive change effort or initiative succeeds or fails.
The Twelfth Principle (n.b. actually appearing fifth in the list of Principles behind the Agile Manifesto) reads:
“Build projects around motivated individuals.
Give them the environment and support they need,
and trust them to get the job done.”
I see some basic flaws in this, but it does serve to highlight (at least, implicitly) the role of the wider organisation.
Here’s my take on these “flaws”:
- Projects. I see little point in using projects to frame development efforts. Personally, I subscribe to #NoProjects, and FlowChain as a practical means to replace the whole idea of projects, in favour of product development flow.
- Individuals. Yes, teams consist of individuals. But Man is a social animal, and collaborative knowledge work – such as software and product development requires society, not individuals. I get the idea that we’re really taking about a focus on people, here. As opposed to say structure, hierarchy, process, or what have you.
- Give. Not so much give as in charity or largesse, but give as in make available, enable.
- Them. Shades of them and us? Unfortunate choice of pronoun.
With a free hand, and the awesome benefit of hindsight, I might represent this principle thusly:
“We accept that collaborative knowledge-work proceeds best when we place people at the core of our focus.
We recognise that people do best within a supportive environment,
where needs are shared and attended to by all.”
How might you rephrase this principle?