Agile Manifesto ConstraintsThe 4 values and 12 principles of the Agile Manifesto provide the definition of “Agile” in OSA.

There is one essential requirement or enabling constraint when experimenting with Agile practices – all practices must support and align with the Agile Manifesto.  At a minimum, the practices used must not obviously offend the 4 core values and 12 supporting principles of the Manifesto.

It is a good idea to post the 4 values and 12 principles in team rooms and other places where everyone affected can be reminded of them.

OpenSpace Agility is not a free for all. Far from it. Participants are invited to experiment with practices that are constrained- in an enabling way- by the Manifesto itself.

Minimal structure during the First Open Space and the Second Open Space encourages participants to discuss a wide range of topics and ideas. As we experiment during the 100 days, the Agile Manifesto provides just enough structure to make sure that we’re really using Agile to experiment with Agile.

Do our practices focus more on individuals and interactions than on processes and tools? Do they support our efforts to deliver working software without requiring comprehensive specifications and other documentation? Do they encourage collaboration between customers and the team instead of arguments about detailed contract specifications? Do they allow us to change plans in response to changing needs? If so, those practices are encouraged. If not, then we must inspect more closely and change our practices.

Do we satisfy our customers by delivering valuable software early, frequently and continuously? Do our processes harness change for the customer’s competitive advantage? Do business people and developers work together daily, preferably with face-to-face conversations? Do we build projects around motivated teams instead of trying to build teams around valuable projects? Is working software our primary measure of progress? Can our sponsors and developers maintain a constant pace indefinitely? Do we focus on technical excellence and good design? Do we maximize the amount of work not done? Do our teams determine what work they take on, and how they do that work? And perhaps most importantly, does the team regularly reflect and adjust its behavior to become more effective? If we follow the 12 principles of the Agile Manifesto, our answer will be “Yes!” Otherwise we must change our practices.

The Agile Manifesto defines a clear boundary between agile (encouraged) practices and non-agile (discouraged) practices. Inside that boundary there is complete freedom for self-organization and experimentation. The results can be amazing.


Written by Mark Sheffield, OSA-Certified Trainer