Embodying the four values of The Agile Manifesto

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As a Scrum Master, you can use the Agile Manifesto’s four values as a compass to guide your team through the complex landscape of software development. Prioritising individuals and interactions, valuing working software, collaborating closely with customers, and embracing change can help ensure that processes are more than just delivering software; they are also about delivering value quickly and effectively.

These values are critical because they enable us to meet our industry’s fast-paced demands while remaining focused on quality and client satisfaction. By keeping these values at the heart of your operations, you can stay on track with your objectives and adapt to challenges with agility and confidence.

How can you, as a Scrum Master, become a champion of change, collaboration, and customer focus? This article delves into the multifaceted role of a Scrum Master who incorporates these values into their practice, challenging traditional management structures to foster environments that prioritize innovation, agility, and teamwork.

What is the Agile Manifesto – and its four values?

The Agile Manifesto was conceived early 2001, when a group of seventeen experienced software development practitioners gathered at Utah’s Snowbird ski resort to discuss lighter, more flexible approaches to development. These were thought leaders from various backgrounds who were united by their dissatisfaction with the traditional, heavyweight software development methodologies that were popular at the time, such as the Waterfall model, which they found to be too rigid and slow for contemporary needs.

The group included notable figures such as Kent Beck, author of Extreme Programming, Jeff Sutherland and Ken Schwaber, co-creators of Scrum, and Ward Cunningham, inventor of the wiki. They gathered to find common ground on an approach to increasing the speed and flexibility of software development, which is critical in a fast-paced and technologically evolving landscape.

During their meeting, they discussed ideas and methodologies that prioritised people, results, collaboration, and the ability to respond quickly to change. Their discussions resulted in the Agile Manifesto, which articulates a set of four fundamental values and twelve supporting principles that promote a flexible, iterative, and collaborative approach to software development.

The Manifesto represents a significant shift away from traditional management and production methodologies and towards approaches that are more adaptive and people-centric. It was published in February 2001 and has since transformed software development practices around the world, spawning frameworks such as Scrum, Kanban, and Lean Software Development, all of which adhere to its core values and principles.

The Agile Manifesto describes the four values as follows:

  1. Individuals and Interactions over Processes and Tools
    • This value promotes the human element of software development, emphasising teamwork and communication over rigid processes and tool sets.
  2. Working Software over Comprehensive Documentation
    • The primary goal here is to produce functional software while keeping documentation lean and essential. This value acknowledges that a working product frequently provides more value than extensive paperwork.
  3. Customer Collaboration over Contract Negotiation
    • Agile encourages active and ongoing customer participation throughout the project to ensure that the product meets their requirements, rather than relying solely on initial contract negotiations, which can limit flexibility.
  4. Responding to Change over Following a Plan
    • This value emphasises embracing change, even late in the development process, in order to improve the product and respond to emerging requirements. Agile recognises that change is unavoidable and views it as an opportunity rather than a challenge.

The Four Values of The Agile Manifesto

A champion of individuals and interactions

At the heart of Agile is the preference for people and interactions over processes and tools. As a Scrum Master, you should prioritise creating a culture in which communication and collaboration are not only encouraged, but necessary for the development process. This approach creates an environment in which each member feels valued and empowered to contribute. Your role entails facilitating open, inclusive, and effective communication channels while ensuring that team dynamics promote productivity and well-being.

While processes and tools are important for maintaining structure and efficiency, they should not be prioritised over human interactions. As a champion of individuals and interactions, you prioritise being a facilitator who empowers the team over being someone who simply enforces processes. It is critical to remember that processes exist to benefit the team, not the other way around. By daring to question and sometimes challenge the status quo in a conformist environment, we create space for innovation and genuine problem solving. This balance is what drives teams to achieve great results.

An advocate for working software

In line with the Agile value of emphasising working software over comprehensive documentation, your approach should prioritise process streamlining to improve delivery in both efficiency and quality. While comprehensive documentation has its uses, particularly for maintaining clarity and continuity over time, it should not interfere with the software’s functionality or delivery. As a Scrum Master, you should promote practices like Continuous Integration and Continuous Deployment to deliver quality software quickly and exceed customer expectations.

In today’s fast-paced business environment, the importance of delivering functional software quickly cannot be overstated. It enables companies to respond quickly to market changes and customer feedback, ensuring their continued competitiveness and relevance. By prioritising working software, we not only provide immediate value to the customer, but also establish a feedback loop that helps in the continuous refinement and improvement of the product. This approach reduces the risks associated with long development cycles and ensures that the final product is more in line with the user’s current needs and expectations.

A facilitator of customer collaboration

In traditional project management, negotiations frequently trump collaboration. However, as a Scrum Master, you must prioritise the Agile value of customer collaboration over contract negotiation. This entails incorporating customers directly into the development process, ensuring that they have a say in product development from the beginning. While contract negotiations are necessary to define the scope, timelines, and budgets, they shouldn’t prevent ongoing interactions and adjustments based on customer feedback and changing requirements.

The approach of incorporating stakeholders and end-users directly into Scrum teams ensures that the products created are not only technically sound, but also closely aligned with what the users require. This practice is especially useful in complex projects where user requirements can change rapidly. Customers and even end-users can be involved in the refinement process and invited for active participation in Sprint Reviews, which allows for continuous feedback and improvement. This engagement establishes a closed feedback loop, which is critical for adjusting the product to better meet user expectations, increasing client satisfaction, and ensuring the overall quality of the product.

By cultivating a strong, collaborative relationship with customers, you can go beyond transactions and form true partnerships. This collaboration is critical not only for aligning the product with current market needs, but also for forecasting future demand. Keeping end-users at the centre of the development process ensures that solutions are practical, user-friendly, and highly effective, maximising the value delivered to customers.

A catalyst for change

Perhaps the most important feature of Agile and Scrum is the capacity to adapt to change. As a Scrum Master, encourage adaptive project management that responds to changing project scopes and stakeholder requirements. Today’s fast-paced, ever-changing software development environment necessitates flexibility. While a plan can provide structure and guidance, strict adherence to it can often hamper progress.

This philosophy differs from Taylorist project management methods, which emphasise strict planning and standardised tasks. Traditional methods can stifle creativity and innovation by restricting team members to predetermined paths. Agile recognises project fluidity and the fact that change is both necessary and advantageous.

You can help projects stay on track by allowing for quick pivoting strategies when technical issues arise. This adaptive approach prepares teams for change and assists them in transforming challenges into innovation opportunities. Creating an environment in which change is viewed as a catalyst for progress is critical!

Scrum Masters are the organization’s change agents. This entails preparing teams to enthusiastically embrace change. Many people are resistant to change because they are uncertain and comfortable with the status quo. You can contribute to a culture that values change by encouraging flexibility and rapid adaptation to new information. To remain agile and deliver superior value, we must change our mindset and continuously improve.


As a Scrum Master who passionately adheres to the four Agile Manifesto values, you are qualified to guide your teams through the complexities of modern software development. These values serve not only as a guide, but also as a dynamic framework that fosters an adaptive, responsive, and collaborative approach to project management. By prioritising individuals over processes, working software over exhaustive documentation, customer collaboration over rigid contract negotiation, and adaptability over slavish adherence to a fixed plan, you ensure that your projects deliver real, tangible value quickly and effectively.

The role of a Scrum Master, when performed with a healthy commitment to the Agile Manifesto’s values, goes beyond the bounds of traditional management. It is about setting a good example, championing individual and interpersonal values, using functional software, collaborating with customers, and being adaptable to change. In this role, you not only manage processes, but also motivate and empower teams to perform at their best. As the world increasingly relies on rigid structures, the Scrum Master provides an important counterbalance, ensuring that creativity, agility, and human-centric values drive our time’s technological advancements.

This adaptable and people-focused approach is especially important in today’s rapidly changing business landscapes, where change is the only constant and customer demands can shift unexpectedly. As a Scrum Master, you are also a change agent, a collaboration facilitator, and an innovator. By instilling these values in all aspects of your work, you help to build resilient, empowered teams that can not only meet, but exceed, the expectations of the most demanding stakeholders. Throughout this journey, you ensure that the principles outlined in the Agile Manifesto continue to inspire and shape successful organizations capable of thriving in an unpredictable world.

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