Principles of the Agile Manifesto



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Agile Manifesto



Modern agile was popularised in the 2001 Manifesto for software development. Its values and principles were derived from a broad range of 1980s Japanese product development, and now underpin a wide range of product and service development practices.

Activity: Agile Manifesto

Timebox: 45 minutes

This activity can be run as a Retrospective or team training event.

What you’ll need

  • Radar Diagram for the Agile Manifesto Principles (download below).
  • Agile Manifesto Principles Poster.
  • Sticky-notes.


This is an interesting session and one not to be used lightly: if the team come to this with an open mind and an honest point of view, it can be a shock to the system. I used it with one team who thought they were highly Agile but in reality were facing many anti-patterns. This exercise, held at the retrospective, acted as a mirror for the team to reflect their true behaviours and give them a chance to recognise the challenges they faced and what they could do as a team to move closer to a true agile way of working. This retrospective can be used at any point to come up with practical steps to move closer to the principles.

Before the session it’s important you understand why you are holding this Retrospective and have a plan for building a concrete improvement plan from it.


Timebox: 10 minutes.

  • Print out the Agile Manifesto and principles and hand out a copy to everyone in the group.

Set the scene

Timebox: 30 minutes.

  • Read each principle out loud.
  • Anonymously, each team member writes a number from 0-10 where they think the team’s observable behaviour rates on this principle.
  • 0 = not at all
  • 10 = living and breathing the principle every day.
  • Repeat until you finish all the 12 principles.

Gather data

Timebox: 5 minutes

  • Give the team a 5 minute a comfort break.
  • Collect the anonymous responses and collate them.
  • Determine the median (middle) response for each principle.
  • Map them onto the spider diagram.

Generate insights

Timebox: 15 minutes.

  • When the team are back, it’s time to examine the spider diagram. It should give you a good visual feedback on how ‘Agile’ you really are, and may cause some surprises among the team. 
  • Discuss why are some low and others high.
  • What factors are influencing some behaviours to be low?
  • What factors are encouraging other behaviours to be higher?
  • Identify what is not in the team’s ability to influence and improve at this time.
  • Discuss what is in the team’s ability to influence and improve.

Decide what to do

Timebox: 10 minutes.

  • Dot vote and choose 1-3 items to create actions for improvement.
  • Identify some key cues that will help the team repeat the behaviour next time.
  • Commit to repeating those next Sprint.
  • Take these items into Sprint Planning an integrate it into the Sprint Plan.
  • Reflect on these items at the next Retrospective.


Download the Agile Manifesto poster to use with this Retrospective.

Download the Agile Manifesto Principles Spider Diagram to use with this Retrospective.


Webb, S. (2017) The Agile Principles Retrospective. Online at:

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