What’s Next for the Agile Manifesto

This weekend, about 33 people got together at the Snowbird Cliff Lodge to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Agile manifesto. This group was invited and hosted by Alistair Cockburn. The goals were to have a celebration, talk about the successes achieved and the problems facing the community, and hopefully contribute something back around the problems that we can sensibly address.

This is not a replacement or an extension for the Agile Manifesto. It is more of a focusing statement relevant to our understanding of today’s problems and needs. There was a lack of alignment at some levels – although the expected disconnects, Kanban vs Scrum vs XP or whatever, didn’t arise. The biggest lack of alignment I saw was between those that feel we need to address Agile across the business and the group that believes Agile is about only software development, asking “Who are we to be describing how the organization should be designed?” I believe this gap has at it roots the different perspective of the people who attended. Some work within software development teams. Some help organizations adopt Agile. And some help organizations exploit the Agile ability to rapidly deliver working increments of value to update business models and deliver on new value propositions.

But there was a ton of alignment on some issues. There was great energy and flow in the room. There was some negativity and cynicism that came from our focus on what problems exist. But that was the exercise – identify problems that we can sensibly address. I found the entire weekend to be valuable and enjoyable. And I believe we came up with something of value as well.


The facilitators had identified seven categories of questions or issues that had been identified through pre-session interviews with some of the attendees.

  • The Future
  • Training
  • Technical
  • Culture
  • Enterprise / Other Communities
  • Value
  • Agile Backlash

After an initial group warm up, we broke into seven groups with each being assigned to an area. We worked to identify the gaps or issues that need to be addressed in the industry today in our assigned area. We then we rotated around the room in our teams to review the other areas, adding any additional issues we identified and moving some issues from one category to another. We then went back to our original categories and identified underlying themes from the issues. These became the big problems that needed to be addressed. This was great conversation within our groups and the underlying themes were pretty clear and consistent. We then did a read out of our themes to the bigger group and had some additional discussion.

Then we took a five hour break.  Some people stayed and did more work, some napped, some when skiing. I went up on top of the mountain with Alan Shalloway, Joshua Kerievsky and Ahmed Sidky. The view was awesome and I really enjoyed the company and the conversation.

When we reconvened and worked to consolidate the big problems under the following headings.

  1. What problems in software or product development have we solved?
  2. What problems are fundamentally unsolvable?
  3. What problems can we sensibly address — problems that we can mitigate either with money, effort or innovation?
  4. What are the problems we don’t want to try and solve?

We then grouped the problems under “What problems can se sensibly address” into themes and dot voted to identify the biggest issues. Finally, we worked to craft a sentence to address the four top themes. This became a challenging process as there were 30 strong willed people with different perspectives all trying to influence the sentences. As we narrowed this down through our consensus process there was a lot of discussion and debate. At the end of the allotted time we had the following.

We, the undersigned, believe the Agile community must::

  1. Demand Technical Excellence
  2. Promote Individual Change and Lead Organizational Change
  3. Organize Knowledge and Promote Education
  4. Maximize Value Creation Across the Entire Process

Demand Technical Excellence

At the end of the day, you can’t deliver value through technology if you are not delivering quality. This category brings in aspects of architectural, engineering, and design. This is still a pressing issue and must be addressed in the community to deliver on the promise of the Agile Manifesto.

Promote Individual Change and Lead Organizational Change

Here is an example of a sentence that we had a broad range of perspectives on. Without adoption by individuals and alignment of organizational governance and management models, Agile won’t deliver on its value proposition.

Organize Knowledge and Promote Education

This isn’t just about the practitioners, it includes the broader business context as well. The community needs to build on the broad body of knowledge that exists within and outside the community – we have to avoid reinventing everything. Diversity of thought is important to the ongoing growth of the community – but we don’t actually do a very good job of intentionally building on the body of knowledge.

Maximize Value Creation Across the Entire Process

Software Development is not an end unto itself. Too many organizations moving toward Agile are focused on just the software development team. This is only valuable to the point that the software development team is the constraint in the organization. We need to learn how to do a better job of defining value and aligning the cadence across the organization and improving the flow of value from concept to delivery.

Closing Thoughts

This was a dynamic crowd with a lot of experience. In this group, there was very little contention between flavors of Agile. Everyone was open and working to address the needs of the industry and the broader needs of the communities we live in. There are lots of problems – I am sure there will be a lot of talk about “The Elephants” – problems that didn’t explicitly make the list. There will be some dissenters. And I think there may be some work to refine the sentences. Hopefully without losing the meaning of the points.

I believe that Alistair’s goals were achieved. We had a nice celebration – we came to consensus (although not unanimous agreement) on the big issues in front of us. And we shared a lot of energy and community. I got to meet and develop relationships with a number of amazing people. And we ate and drank a lot both nights. I don’t know what comes out of this effort in the bigger community. Now, let’s see how the Agile community responds to the outcome.  I hope we rally around the big issues and continue to improve where we work and the value we deliver.

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11 Responses to “What’s Next for the Agile Manifesto”

  1. Armond Mehrabian says on :

    I wholeheartedly agrees with “Maximize Value Creation Across the Entire Process.” Software is an important *component* of the value created by organizations; there is desperate need to optimize the *whole* value (to borrow a famous phrase “from concept to cash”).

    Another rarely-discussed component in Agile thought is user experience. It would be great to incorporate Jeff Patton’s ideas into the Agile process. My clients are always asking me “so who and when does the user interface get defined?” If the answer is: through emergent design, it needs to be better explained and incorporated into the process.

    A lot has happened over the last 10 years. Agile is definitely due for an overhaul and upgrade. I’m very excited about how it’s going to grow and influence the entire value stream of organizations in the years to come.

    Thanks for great post Dennis!

    -Armond Mehrabian

  2. Tweets that mention Dennis Stevens » Blog Archive » What’s Next for the Agile Manifesto -- Topsy.com says on :

    [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Dennis Stevens and Joshua Kerievsky, Mustafa Aksut. Mustafa Aksut said: RT @daveg253: DStevens: #pmot What’s Next for the Agile Manifesto http://bit.ly/gceofu [...]

  3. Jon Stahl says on :

    Nice summary Dennis, thanks.

  4. Demand Technical Excellence « A third way? says on :

    [...] together to celebrate the last 10 years since the agile manifesto was introduced and to discuss the next phase of evolution.   The first area that has been mentioned in every write up of the event is ‘Demand [...]

  5. Dennis Stevens » Blog Archive » Reflections on #10yrsagile – What is Value? says on :

    [...] in the same resort in Utah, 33 people got together to discuss the Agile Manifesto and talk about what is next. There was a lot of  great discussion and a lot of agreement. What was interesting to me was [...]

  6. Geert Bossuyt says on :

    Sounds like a nice experience indeed.

    I beleive some of the points mentioned are captured in the MoreAgile Manifesto. as well.

    It’s not a replacement or extension on the Agile Manifesto. It’s a different scope.
    What Agile is for software development, is MoreAgile for organizations.

    Partnership in times of change will lead to deliver the right value at the right time.

  7. Curious Cat Management Improvement Blog » Management Improvement Carnival #123 says on :

    [...] What’s Next for the Agile Manifesto by Dennis Stevens – “We need to learn how to do a better job of defining value and aligning the cadence across the organization and improving the flow of value from concept to delivery.” [...]

  8. More Reflections on 10 Years Since the Agile Manifesto | BeiJing Parking says on :

    [...] Dr Dobbs also has an article by Scott Ambler titled “Agile at 10: What We Believe” talking about the 10-year anniversary meeting organised by Alistair Cockburn that he attended.  The participants examined the state of the agile movement and discussed the future direction of the agile community.  Denis Stevens also attended the 2011 meeting and posted his thoughts in a blog entry titled “WHAT’S NEXT FOR THE AGILE MANIFESTO“  [...]

  9. Gebhard says on :

    I would prefer to have the Agile Manifesto replaced by what I call
    “Agile Principles 2011″ found here:


  10. Agile Manifesto: A Brief Introduction « PMI-ACP Guide says on :

    [...] and relevant to the industry’s current problems and needs. As a result, the group developed a statement on what it believed the Agile community needs to [...]

  11. Gebhard says on :

    Please read also: The New (2011) Definitions of Agile.

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