It's been over 20 years since the Agile manifesto came out, and the simple fact that much of the technical project, development/engineering, and IT world run some form of hybridized Agile programs with these principles at their core is a tribute to the 'truth' put forth by this small team of developers so long ago.
For review, the 12 points from the year 2001 are included below. I remember the first team I lead that ran a scrum process, and I remember how groundbreaking it sounded when my lead Developer came to me and said "We should try this..."
As a professional program owner I now have thousands of Sprints behind me over 22 years, and it's interesting how my professional, 'work-thinking' and application of these principles have bled into other parts of my life. I find that while juggling the myriad of tasks and responsibilities of a husband, father, and community leader outside of my work life, the ripples of these principles organize my thinking. I think in "scrum" while managing multiple programs at home, from managing our BNB, to helping with my wife's photography business, to Ambassador work with Airbnb, to organizing simple trips to town when 'town' is a 20 mile round trip away. Trust me, without proper planning, it's suddenly a 40 mile adventure!
Principles behind the Manifesto
Our highest priority is to satisfy the customer through early and continuous delivery of valuable software.
Welcome changing requirements, even late in development. Agile processes harness change for the customer's competitive advantage.
Deliver working software frequently, from a couple of weeks to a couple of months, with a preference to the shorter timescale.
Business people and developers must work together daily throughout the project.
Build projects around motivated individuals. Give them the environment and support they need, and trust them to get the job done.
The most efficient and effective method of conveying information to and within a development team is face-to-face conversation.
Working software is the primary measure of progress.
Agile processes promote sustainable development. The sponsors, developers, and users should be able to maintain a constant pace indefinitely.
Continuous attention to technical excellence and good design enhances agility.
Simplicity--the art of maximizing the amount of work not done--is essential.
The best architectures, requirements, and designs emerge from self-organizing teams.
At regular intervals, the team reflects on how to become more effective, then tunes and adjusts its behavior accordingly.
Not just a Marketing Term for PMOs
The more experience we gain, the more we see the patterns that 'work' and lead to success are adapted, renamed, and repeated by high performing teams. A business associate of mine made a statement that agile was just "project management all over again" with a slick marketing name - and that 'agile' is the same as what we'd been doing since the 90s. This is not true IMHO.
I believe these principles were ground breaking at the time because they came from the bottom up.
Those of us who've lived in the programming and development trenches long enough to remember a time before object oriented programming (yes, we still roam the Earth) had a "way of working" that was completely different and mirrored the product we put out. The fact that this came from our peers as the software world changed in the 90s made a difference, and we each began to believe in our team's abilities to self organize and do things differently and more efficiently. The businesses we were part of over the years couldn't argue with our success.
If you're just getting to know me, you'll find I tend to think and see programs and projects through the scrum filter I mentioned above. While I still manage waterfalls for construction projects, scrum-styled programs are freeing for me in a structured operations oriented world. Scrum simply provides a structure for delivery, but does not tell you how to do specific practices, leaving that to each team to determine.
I absolutely believe in the power of self organizing teams of teams - and hope you feel my passion for lean, agile frameworks as you begin your iterative journey. I can't wait to see how your team organizes to pursue its work and applies the framework built on the principles of this wonderful manifesto that has aged so well.