We shift slightly in our tour of the Agile Manifesto to focus on the opening statements.  In this episode, we dig into the value of individuals and interactions while acknowledging processes and tools.  The essential point in these opening statements is that all of these are valuable.  However, we find some to have more value than others.  This valuation should help us decide on how to make decisions and move forward with a project.

We are uncovering better ways of developing
software by doing it and helping others do it.
Through this work we have come to value:

Individuals and interactions over processes and tools

A Slave To Your Tools

There is a well-known bit of wisdom that says when you only have a hammer; everything is a nail.  This intellectual nugget stumbles upon how we can become a slave to our tools.  When you look at the modern IT world, this has become pervasive.  Many job positions include a long list of tools that are required or preferred.  Think about that.  We have decided that it is often more important to follow a process than solve a problem.  That is why this point is made.  We need tools and techniques.  However, we can be weakened by focusing on them too much.  A better approach is to emphasize individuals and interactions.  In other words, a similar experience over a specific tool or environment.

An Army of One

Many years ago, there was a marketing campaign for the U.S. Army.  The tagline was “an army of one.”  There are many ways you could interpret this phrase.  However, it does highlight the individual in a team.  Success requires this granular focus.  When we ignore the individuals and attempt to force them into a process, mold, or environment, success is at risk.  We cannot take that approach and still have an environment that draws the best out of each team member.

A Framework And Constraints

This point does not direct us to let the “inmates run the asylum.”  We still need to have a process that the team follows and tools to help get the job done.  Instead of choosing one over the other, we need to find a way to pair these items to get the best out of our team.  Therefore, start with the team and select tools and processes rather than the other way around.

The Twelve Principles and Overall Manifesto

Challenge of The Week: Are you using your tools or are they using you?

Rob Broadhead

Rob is a founder of, and frequent contributor to, Develpreneur. This includes the Building Better Developers podcast. He is also a lifetime learner as a developer, designer, and manager of software solutions. Rob is the founder of RB Consulting and has managed to author a book about his family experiences and a few about becoming a better developer. In his free time, he stays busy raising five children (although they have grown into adults). When he has a chance to breathe, he is on the ice playing hockey to relax or working on his ballroom dance skills.

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