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What Is the Highest Priority in the Agile Manifesto?

Ever wonder what secret ingredient makes top Product Managers so effective? 

Hint: It’s not just caffeine. 

In our experience, PMs at the top of their game have one thing in common: their understanding and application of the Agile Manifesto. 

Agile is more than a methodology; it’s a mindset. Embracing it means being open to change, ready to pivot, and always putting your customer first. 

So, buckle up and get ready for a journey that could change the way you manage products forever.

In this article, we will: 

  • Unpack the Agile Manifesto: Discover what it is and why it’s the project management world’s go-to playbook.
  • Decode the 12 Principles: These aren’t just lofty ideals; they’re practical guides for navigating the complex tech terrain.
  • Explore the 4 Values: Find out which of these is the MVP for Product Managers and why.
  • Grab Some Pro Tips: Don’t just learn about Agile - learn how to maximize your workflow with it. 

What is the Agile Manifesto?

At its core, the Agile Manifesto is like the holy grail of modern software development and project management. 

Born out of frustration with the old, rigid ways of developing software, it was created in 2001 by 17 software developers who sought a more fluid, responsive approach. 

The manifesto is not a step-by-step guide; think of it more as a philosophy or a set of guiding principles to help teams navigate the often tumultuous waters of project development.

It’s all about choosing people and conversations over rigid processes and fancy tools, valuing working software more than an encyclopedia of documentation, preferring a good old chat with customers over endless contract haggling, and embracing change like it’s the latest tech trend, rather than stubbornly sticking to a plan.

The Agile Values are the cornerstones of the Manifesto and the Agile way of working
The Agile Values are the cornerstones of the Manifesto and the Agile way of working

What the Agile Manifesto Does in Practice:

  • Foundation for Agile Methodologies (Scrum, Kanban, Lean): Scrum focuses on short, iterative cycles called sprints, emphasizing team collaboration and regular reflection.

Kanban uses a visual workflow management method to optimize the process flow.

Lean emphasizes eliminating waste and optimizing resource efficiency.

  • Guides Actionable Practices and Frameworks: Breaks down its vision into specific practices like daily stand-ups, sprint reviews, and retrospectives.
  • Fosters a Collaborative Environment: Promotes team collaboration and cross-functional roles.
  • Adaptability and Rapid Response: Supports teams in quickly adapting to changes in requirements or market conditions.
  • Customer-Centric Approach: Places a strong emphasis on customer feedback and involvement in the development process.

Agile Manifesto: The 12 Principles

The 12 Agile Principles at a glance
The 12 Agile Principles at a glance

The Agile Manifesto isn’t just about its four key values; it also stands on a foundation of 12 principles. These principles are like the commandments of Agile, guiding teams on their journey to greater agility and better product development. 

Let’s take a look at each:

  1. Our highest priority is to satisfy the customer through early and continuous delivery of valuable software.
    • It’s all about keeping the customer happy. Think of it as always having a small, valuable gem of software ready to delight them, rather than making them wait for ages for a huge diamond. 
  2. Welcome changing requirements, even late in development. Agile processes harness change for the customer’s competitive advantage.
    • Changes aren’t a nuisance; they’re opportunities. Embrace them like unexpected plot twists that could lead to a blockbuster ending.
  3. Deliver working software frequently, from a couple of weeks to a couple of months, with a preference for a shorter timescale.
    • Keep the software coming at a steady pace. The sooner you deliver, the quicker you get feedback and can adapt. 
  4. Business people and developers must work together daily throughout the project.
    • Collaboration is key. This ensures that both the business and technical sides of a project are aligned with their objectives. 
  5. Build projects around motivated individuals. Give them the environment and support they need, and trust them to get the job done.
    • Put the right people in the driver’s seat, give them a top-notch GPS (support and environment), and let them drive.
  6. The most efficient and effective method of conveying information to and within a development team is face-to-face conversation.
    • Face-to-face conversation is by far the most efficient and effective way to communicate within a development team. This direct interaction cuts through misunderstandings and delays that often accompany written or indirect communication.
  7. Working software is the primary measure of progress.
    • The proof of the pudding is in the eating. Here, it’s all about how well the software works, not just how good it looks on paper.
  8. Agile processes promote sustainable development. The sponsors, developers, and users should be able to maintain a constant pace indefinitely.
    • Keep the pace steady. It’s a marathon, not a sprint, so no need to burn out in the first mile.
  9. Continuous attention to technical excellence and good design enhances agility.
    • Always aim for greatness. As the saying goes ‘Aim for the moon, because even if you miss, you’ll still land among the stars.’ 
  10. Simplicity — the art of maximizing the amount of work not done — is essential.
    • Keep it simple. Don’t climb a mountain when a hill will do. It’s too easy to get bogged down in ‘busywork’ that doesn’t move the needle forward.
  11. The best architectures, requirements, and designs emerge from self-organizing teams.
    • Let the team take the reins. Often, the best ideas come from the ground up, not the top down.
  12. At regular intervals, the team reflects on how to become more effective, then tunes and adjusts its behavior accordingly.
    • Take time to reflect. This allows a development team to assess their effectiveness, identify areas for improvement, and adjust their approach. 

Agile Manifesto: Value 1 - “Individuals and Interactions Over Processes and Tools”

The first value of the Agile Manifesto, “Individuals and Interactions Over Processes and Tools,” is the most important. It sets the tone for everything else. 

It’s a rallying cry for Product Managers and teams to remember that in the grand concert of product development, it’s the people and their harmony that make the music, not just the instruments they play.

Why It’s Considered Number One:

  • Human Element is Key: In the world of product management, success hinges on the team’s ability to communicate, collaborate, and understand each other. This value puts the spotlight on human interactions, reminding us that even the most sophisticated tools are no match for the power of a well-synced team.
  • Flexibility and Adaptability: By prioritizing individuals and their interactions, teams become more flexible and adaptable. It’s about being agile in the truest sense – ready to pivot when needed, based on real conversations and insights, not just because a tool or process says so.
  • Fostering Innovation: When people are placed before processes, creativity gets a front-row seat. This environment is where innovative ideas are born and nurtured, as team members feel more open to sharing thoughts and exploring new possibilities.
  • Building Strong Relationships: This value lays the foundation for strong, trust-based relationships within teams and with stakeholders. When people know they are valued over the processes, it fosters a sense of belonging and commitment, which is crucial for long-term project success.

Agile Manifesto: Value 2 - “Working Software Over Comprehensive Documentation”

The second value of the Agile Manifesto, “Working Software Over Comprehensive Documentation,” is basically like choosing to drive off of the lot in a car instead of just getting the polished, detailed brochure about the car. 

It’s about shifting the focus from exhaustive documentation to actually delivering a functional product.

Defining the Value:

This value isn’t a total dismissal of documentation’s importance, but instead, it is a shift in priorities. 

In the traditional model of development, extensive documentation was often required before any coding began. The Agile approach flips this, emphasizing the need to produce workable software as quickly as possible.

Documentation takes a backseat to the primary goal: delivering software that works and meets user needs. 

Why It’s Emphasized:

  • Responding to Change: In today’s tech world, requirements change rapidly. Long processes of documentation slows down the ability to adapt. Agile encourages flexibility, allowing teams to pivot and make fast changes without getting bogged down. 
  • Customer Value: Let’s be real – customers are more interested in a working app than a well-documented plan. This value aligns product development with customer satisfaction, ensuring that the end-user receives a functional product in a timely manner.
  • Efficiency and Productivity: By focusing on working software, teams can channel their energy and resources into development rather than paperwork. This leads to increased efficiency and productivity, as efforts are concentrated on tangible results.

Agile Manifesto: Value 3 - “Customer Collaboration Over Contract Negotiation”

The third value of the Agile Manifesto is “Customer Collaboration Over Contract Negotiation,“. It emphasizes the importance of ongoing, interactive engagement with customers rather than just sticking to the strict terms of a contract.

Defining the Value:

This value is about viewing the customer as a partner in the development process, not just a recipient at the end of the production line. 

In a more traditional project management approach, contracts often set the requirements, scope, and deliverables in stone. And usually, there’s very little wiggle room for adaptation or input as the project evolves. 

With Agile, this changes. 

It’s a shift from a “We talk, you listen” approach to a “Let’s chat over coffee” kind of vibe, where customer feedback and ideas are part of the development recipe from start to finish.

Why It’s Prioritized:

  • Adapting to Customer Needs: The tech world is like a kaleidoscope - constantly changing. Sticking to a fixed contract can sometimes mean delivering a product that’s outdated by the time it hits the market. Collaborating with customers ensures that the product evolves in tandem with their changing needs and expectations.
  • Building Strong Relationships: Think of it as building a bridge rather than a wall. Collaboration fosters a stronger, trust-based relationship with customers, turning them into advocates and partners, rather than just spectators.
  • Enhancing Product Relevance and Value: Continuous customer input ensures that the product being developed is not just functional but also highly relevant and valuable to the end-user. It’s like custom-tailoring a suit – it just fits better.

Agile Manifesto: Value 4 - “Responding to Change Over Following a Plan”

The fourth and final value of the Agile Manifesto is “Responding to Change Over Following a Plan”. 

This principle isn’t about abandoning all plans; rather, it’s about recognizing that the path to success often requires detours, shortcuts, and sometimes, a completely new direction. 

Defining the Value:

In traditional project management, a plan is often seen as a sacred script, set in stone and followed to the letter. But let’s face it, how often does everything go exactly as planned? 

This value of the Agile Manifesto recognizes that change is not just inevitable, it’s also potentially beneficial. 

It suggests that being flexible and responsive to changes – whether they come from market trends, customer feedback, or technological advances – is more valuable than rigidly clinging to an original plan.

Why It’s Emphasized:

  • Embracing Uncertainty: In the tech world, the only constant is change. This value is like having a built-in GPS that reroutes you in real-time as new information comes in, ensuring you’re always on the most efficient path.
  • Maximizing Project Relevance: By responding to change, you ensure that your project stays relevant and meets the current needs of users, rather than what you thought they needed when you first drafted the plan.
  • Fostering Innovation: Sticking too closely to a plan can stifle creativity. This value encourages teams to think outside the box and be open to new ideas that could enhance the project.
  • Reducing Risk: When you’re open to change, you can quickly pivot away from strategies that aren’t working. This flexibility can be a major risk mitigator, saving time, resources, and a lot of headaches.

The PM’s Hot Take

At Fibery, the Agile Manifesto isn’t just a document; it’s the heartbeat of our team. It’s transformed the way we approach product management. Within this manifesto, the principle of valuing adaptability over fixed plans really resonates with us. To us, it’s like choosing a smartphone over a stone tablet. Sure, the tablet won’t run out of battery, but it also won’t update you on the new coffee shop around the corner. Embracing this Agile value has been a game-changer. We’ve learned that in the fluid world of product management, change isn’t just a frequent visitor; it’s a permanent team member, always ready to contribute. This flexibility to pivot and evolve is what keeps our projects not just afloat, but sailing ahead in uncharted waters.


Embracing these values isn’t just about being trendy; it’s about recognizing that in a field where yesterday’s big innovation is today’s old news, adaptability, collaboration, and customer focus aren’t just nice-to-haves; they’re survival skills. 

So, if you’re ready to upgrade your project management from analog to digital, dive deeper into Agile with us. 

Check out more in-depth information at our blog, and see how our platform can help you stay agile in more ways than one. 

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