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Hasse Jansen, 23 May '17

The 12 Principles of Agile Management

Agile Development has been widely adopted by teams. Now it’s time for managers to take Agile to the strategic level.

The 12 Agile Software Development Principles are written for developers, but they don’t necessarily suit the needs of managers. We’ve methodically adjusted the Agile Software Development Principles to make Agile effective and enjoyable for Management.

It’s time to take Agile all the way up to the boardroom.

Agile is going strategic

Agile is still growing and branching out into industries beyond tech and beyond development departments. It isn’t just for Software Developers anymore. Companies across industries are starting to use Agile for strategic goal setting and strategy execution. Pioneering organizations now use the Agile principles to pursue commercial goals.

The iterative, sprint approach can in theory be applied to any process. Staying light on your feet, always ready to respond to environmental changes, is recommended for any business. But that doesn’t mean you can simply “copy and paste” the Agile Software Development Principles to use them in any other business.

Expanding Agile implementation across industries and beyond tech departments requires a thorough understanding of the differences between Software Development and other industries. Agile Management acknowledges these differences and is created to work well in a more commercial, strategic setting.

There are five key differences between Agile Development and Agile Management:

Agile development Agile Management comparison differences

12 Agile Management Principles

The Agile Manifesto lists “12 Agile Software Development Principles”. We’ve methodically adjusted each of them to create what we call the “12 Agile Management Principles”. 

Agile Software Development Principle #1

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

Agile Management Principle #1

Our highest priority is to satisfy stakeholders through continuous achievement of commercial success


Agile Software Development Principle #2

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

Agile Management Principle #2

Welcome changes in strategy and (sub)goals pursued. Agile Management processes harness strategic change for the company’s competitive advantage.


Agile Software Development Principle #3

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

Agile Management Principle #3

Review commercial goals and strategy frequently: every quarter, month, or every two weeks, with a preference for the shorter timescale.


Agile Software Development Principle #4

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

Agile Management Principle #4

Strategists and operational teams must work together. Operational tasks must add to goals, and goals must add to achieving company strategy, throughout the year.


Agile Software Development Principle #5

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

Agile Management Principle #5

Motivate individuals to add value by being transparent about the goals that make up strategy. It will give employees the strategic support they need to add value wherever they see fit.


Agile Software Development Principle #6

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

Agile Management Principle #6

The most efficient and effective method of conveying strategic information within and across teams is periodic, structured, face-to-face conversation, guided by strategy visuals.

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Agile Software Development Principle #7

Working software is the primary measure of progress.

Agile Management Principle #7

Measurable commercial results are the primary measure of strategic progress.


Agile Software Development Principle #8

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

Agile Management Principle #8

Agile Management processes promote sustainable refinement and achievement of goals and accompanying tasks. Strategists, goal owners and teams should be able to maintain a constant pace indefinitely.


Agile Software Development Principle #9

Continuous attention to technical excellence and good design enhances agility.

Agile Management Principle #9

Continuous attention to well-defined strategic goals and accompanying tasks enhance alignment and company agility.


Agile Software Development Principle #10

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

Agile Management Principle #10

Strategic simplicity -- the art of maximizing the number of non-strategic goals not pursued-- is essential.


Agile Software Development Principle #11

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

Agile Management Principle #11

The best strategies, goals, and tasks emerge from empowered and aligned self-organizing teams.


Agile Software Development Principle #12

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

Agile Management Principle #12

At regular intervals, strategists and teams reflect on how to become more commercially successful, then tunes and adjust goals and tasks accordingly.



Agile + Strategy Visualization = Agile Management

Are you inspired by the above principles? The next step is to create a structure that will allow your company to run guided by the 12 Principles of Agile Management. To align your company for goal achievement, all you need to do is visualize your strategy.

A strategy is nothing more than a well thought out, coherent network of commercial goals. It is a depiction of which commercial results you and your company think are required for the achievement of higher goals. Or think of it as a value chain of goals.

Boardview-TreeCompany strategy should always reflect a changing reality. As the environment changes, so should your goals. Nothing is set in stone, which keeps your company agile. Depending on your environment and internal agreements, your goal tree can be anything; from a statement of intent, to a detailed network of SLAs, or anything in between.

When the relationship between strategic goals is visualized in one overview, you can quickly see how adjusting one goal affects others. It enables you to make sure all goals are relevant at any given time, and that together they make up a coherent strategy year-round.

Being transparent about strategy breeds a culture of contribution and continuous improvement. Whoever sees a way to add value to any of the goals can suggest additions. When you’ve got your strategy visualized, you can make sure new additions are in line with the existing network of goals. It combines individual freedom with collective coherence.

Agile has worked wonders for Software Development. To make Agile attractive to Management, you need to widen the scope of agile operations while keeping an overview. Strategy visualization enables you to do so.

It’s time to take agile to the next level. It’s time to run your business guided by the 12 Principles of Agile Management. 

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