Agile design principles

I may have mentioned this before, but I’m a bit of a nerd for design principles. Have I shown you my equivalent of an interesting rock collection lately?

If you think about design principles for any period of time, it inevitably gets very meta very quickly. You start thinking about what makes for good design principles. In other words, you start wondering if there are design principles for design principles.

I’ve written before about how I think good design principles should encode some level of prioritisation. The classic example is the HTML design principle called the priority of consitituencies:

In case of conflict, consider users over authors over implementors over specifiers over theoretical purity.

It’s wonderfully practical!

I realised recently that there’s another set of design princples that put prioritisation front and centre—the Agile manifesto:

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

And there’s this excellent explanation which could just as well apply to the priorty of constituencies:

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

Yes! That’s the spirit!

Ironically, the Agile manifesto also contains a section called principles behind the Agile manifesto which are …less good (at least they’re less good as design principles—they’re fine as hypotheses to be tested).

Agile is far from perfect. See, for example, Miriam Posner’s piece Agile and the Long Crisis of Software. But where Agile isn’t fulfilling its promise, I’d say it’s not because of its four design principles. If anything, I think the problems arise from organisations attempting to implement Agile without truly internalising the four principles.

Oh, and that’s another thing I like about the Agile manifesto as a set of design principles—the list of prioritised principles is mercifully short. Just four lines.

Have you published a response to this? :


Previously on this day

1 year ago I wrote More talk

Even when the Clearleft podcast is on a break, I’m still yappin’ away.

7 years ago I wrote 100 words 049

Day forty nine.

11 years ago I wrote Questioning mobile browsers

Got a question you’d like to ask of Opera, Nokia or RIM? Let me know.

12 years ago I wrote A site for Science Hack Day

A bit of HTML5 and a slap of CSS3 …for science!

12 years ago I wrote The Big Web Show 2: HTML5 Boogaloo

It’s big. It’s on the web. It’s a show. It’s The Big Web Show.

14 years ago I wrote XTech 2008

One week in Baile Átha Cliatha.

16 years ago I wrote Moving

Before heading off to Amsterdam, I need to get all my worldly belongings into my new flat.

18 years ago I wrote Got Blog?

The RSS grapevine is fairly humming today with the news of the Blogger redesign.

20 years ago I wrote Campaign for Digital Rights - Copy-protected CD information

Just in case anyone thinks my whinging about the "copy-protected" nature of the soundtrack to the new Star Wars film is over the top, I think it’s worth pointing out that these "copy-protected" CDs also won’t play in car st