You have to be be Agile in principle, for Agile to work for you in method.
The principle is about accelerating value for users — through fast and efficient value attempts. It is about finding the most efficient way to execute the discovery-design-create cycle in the smallest possible batch. It concerns with the “essential complexity” of building software for user value. You know, the stuff concerning with humans/users that can’t be automated.
And the method should be in service of the principle — first and foremost. Because that prevents the method from becoming that fast galloping horse we have talked about before — one that just runs fast but goes nowhere. Putting the principle first helps to right-size the method. Such that, the method is actually reducing the “accidental complexity” for accelerating user value.
Take Scrum framework, for example. You don’t need to debate whether your sprints should be daily, monthly or weekly. Rather, you should make your development batch as small as possible so that you can discover user value through meaningful discovery-design-create cycles, however long appropriate cycle is. Generally shorter the better. The same applies to other aspects of Scrum. Creating value must take precedence over purity of Scrum.
Other related, and interesting, discourse is around DevOps, or NoOps as some people are calling it now . What you need is RightOps — that is the exact operations that enable fast and efficient value attempts. Nicole Forsgren, Jez Humble and Gene Kim call that “evidence based transformation” in their book, Accelerate. They have identified 24 different capabilities that are proven to improve agility of software delivery. Keeping the goal of creating user value in mind, it is a good starting place for building RightOps.
As Scrum and RightOps example show, the principle calls for a tighter feedback cycle between teams creating software and humans using the software. Because that feedback cycle is the foundation of user friendly technology. As Bret Victor said it in his famous talk— “Creators need an immediate connection to what they’re creating.” A fast and efficient value attempt strengthens that connection between software creators and software users.
Therefore, when it comes to Being Agile, the principle is way more important than the method. Because Being Agile is way more than Doing Agile.