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If you’ve ever read the Agile Manifesto you’re familiar with these four lines.

“Individuals and interactions over processes and tools
Working software over comprehensive documentation
Customer collaboration over contract negotiation
Responding to change over following a plan”

You are also familiar with this line.

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

It can seem easy to interpret the manifesto as a software company. If the choice to take on a new tool will dampen the interactions of individuals then pick the individuals. Pick the software if your software is not working and your documentation is lacking. See, straight forward. Now those are limited examples.  Numerous aspects aren’t included. What industry are these examples part of?  Are the customers internal or external to the company? Is the tool essential for progress to move forward? That interpretation is also rigid.

Agile Audio Mixer

When listening to your favorite song, you probably never stop thinking about someone mixing the sounds. In the studio, the artist records the music and the audio mixer puts it all together into one cohesive sound. The sliders on an audio mixer are called “Channel Faders”. They allow the person editing the song to turn up or down certain sounds in the music.

The four tenants of Agile are the team’s and/or company’s faders. The rigid examples from before do not allow for adjustment. Thinking of the tenants as faders allow more flexibility with an Agile mindset.

Working software over comprehensive documentation

When you take into account a company’s industry, fader levels may change. Take for instance a medical device company. The “working software over comprehensive documentation” slider might lean a little more towards the documentation side in comparison to a company developing applications for a refrigerator. With a medical device, lives may be on the line. This justifies a higher level of documentation.

Responding to change over following a plan

Teams making tools that are under government regulation may need to adjust their “responding to change over following a plan” fader. New regulations could be going into place on a certain date and they have until then to shift their software. Once that date has passed they can readjust their fader.

Individuals and interactions over processes and tools

Taking a look at the “individuals and interactions over processes and tools” slider, a pandemic may cause processes and tools to take a higher priority than they usually would. Teams needed to adjust to new tools to communicate effectively while out of the office. The slider adjusts when the team can meet back together face to face.

Putting it All Together

One thing that is common among the images above is that the slider never goes past the middle. This ensures the “over” is still true in each tenant. Remember there is still “value in the items to the right”.

Combine the pictures to get the current state of the audio mixer. Like any song, your Agile sound will change over time. The tempo might pick up. It might get louder. There may be an impromptu guitar solo. On an Agile journey keep your sound in mind and know adjustments may need to be made from time to time.

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