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Is your Agile getting stale? Take the Mani-fresh-to Challenge!


Everything changed in 2020, even the Scrum Guide got an update, but the Agile Manifesto didn’t. With my good friend Chris, we came up with an idea to re-develop it and in the process, really picked it apart. At the end, we found that the original is in pretty good nick, but learnt a lot through the process.

Your takeaway: running through the exercise we did with anyone is really great to hone your knowledge and understanding of Agile, wherever you are in your journey.

How was 2020 for you and your Agile then?

What a year 2020 was. Annus Horribulus? More like Annus Unexpect-o-ramus. Annus Infectus. You can see what massive benefits three years of Latin has stood me in my everyday work as an Agile Coach i.e. not much at all.

What did most of us do? Use our skills to pivot to adapt to our changing worlds. Mostly. I found myself getting hot and sweaty with a complete stranger to me called Joe for weeks on end. The cupboard under the stairs became the new home office as it had the strongest WiFi signal in the house. We dug some potatoes into the ground as part of home school. Heck, we even decided as a household never to bake banana bread again.

Lots changed in 2020. I think we can file in the Incontrovertible Truth bin. As well as all of that, we Agilistas got a wonderful present on November the 18th. Nope, still no news on getting refinement into the ceremony list, but we did get a new Scrum Guide. Wonderful, you might think, but it made me think, what happened to the Agile Manifesto, it’s like a gazillion years old now. Or 20 years if you are reading this in 2021. What could we do about that?

Be the change you want to see…and ask your friend Chris

Chatting to my good friend and Agile Coach Chris one day soon afterwards, I explained that I felt maybe we needed to make some amends to the Agile Manifesto what with everything going on in the world. He agreed. We hatched a plan. Well, let’s say a first sprint at least.

At a coming MeetUp, we would launch something new. The Agile Mani-freshto ( © Chris ). Re-launched for the Post-Covid world, rubbing its eyes after emerging from the all-nighter of 2020, why did we both feel that the manifesto needed amending, and what should we put in the new version?

The format is compelling…honest guv!

  • Good vs Evil
  • Superman vs Batman
  • Gaffer tape vs…well, pretty much anything.

One of the great things I love about the Agile Manifesto is the format of the values. Something over something else. Its simplicity is its power.

That is, while there is value in the items on the right, we value the items on the left more.

Chris and I went back to our respective virtual corners and put our thinking caps on. What would we include? What do we hold dear, and why is this more preferable than something else?

After much deliberation, we prepared our horses to run down. The trouble was, we had no racegoers to adjudicate.

Let the crowd decide if there is one.

We warmed up a friend of ours, John to see if we could speak at his next MeetUp Group. After getting the go-ahead, we dived into Google Slides to put together a presentation to talk around. Chris and I rambled through an intro and then dived into our own suggestions to go into the mani-fresh-to. Two each. Mine first, his next. Battle to the end.

I mean, that sounds great, but who wants to dial into that on a wet Wednesday evening for an hour? Nobody. Not even my Mum. She’s busily on her Zoom Pilates class. We needed to pivot.

Zoom (other video platforms are of course available, there just not quite as good) is a wonderful tool, I’m not going to lie. But as a joiner, it does feel more broadcast mode than meetings used to be, in the real world, you know, pre-pandemic. However, what remains strong is people’s desire to get involved when they can. So, to help them do that, we gave the joiners five minutes to come up with their own ideas after seeing ours, and submit them into an online poll, where everyone could upvote and downvote them. Fast forward a few weeks, via a few posts on social media promoting the session, and launch day is here…PANIC! Holding each other’s hands virtually, Chris and I polished our cameras and headed into the deep. Here we GOOOOOOO!

What happened, and what did you learn?

How did it go…erm, well, have a look yourself:

It was great. Really good. Working with Chris is great too. I find it much more motivating to have somebody to work with on something, bounce ideas off and be inspired by. If you don’t have that, do get a Chris. They are grrrreeeeeat 🙂

It was also wonderful to see how people engaged with the concept. As a coach, I often trot out the famously miss attributed Einstein quote:

“If you can’t explain it to a six year old, you don’t understand it yourself”, said Not Enstein

but it was great to see so many people in the session try and compact all of their thoughts and experiences with the Agile Manifesto into a simple phrase. The format of one thing over another is also a great way to help structure your thoughts and we had a really good debate about the entries that came out on top, that people had suggested. Heck, even one or two of our own got up there in the mix, which I was really proud to see, although Chris beating me was obviously hard to take as mine were OBVIOUSLY BETTER! According to me 😉

What did become clear though * Spoiler Alert * is that
maybe, we don’t really need any new entries. Maybe the old version is sort of okay? Keeping things general means they can continue to apply to so many of our work situations today which as an Agile Coach is great. Some wonderful ideas came up, but I think both Chris and I are pretty happy with the manifesto as it is and want to keep it for another twenty years or so!

What’s happening next?

Well, if you don’t agree with either of us, that’s great! Feel free to take the conversation social and get involved

We both want to take this out on the road when it’s all safe; we have all been jabbed and have got enough confidence to emerge into the real world. If we don’t or the talk gets harshly rejected from Agile Conferences, we may just take it further virtually and start it up as a podcast, bringing on guests to see what they think should be added to a new mani-fresh-to. In the meantime, thanks for reading; let us know what you think and whether you have taken the challenge yourself. ENJOY!!!