Home > Articles

The Lean-Agile Mindset

  • Print
  • + Share This
This chapter is from the book

Embracing Agility

The right half of the Lean-Agile Mindset is, of course, Agile. In chapter 1, “Business Need for SAFe,” we introduced the Agile Manifesto. It provides the foundation for empowered cross-functional, self-organizing, self-managing teams. The rest of this chapter is devoted to it.

The Values of the Agile Manifesto

Figure 3-2 illustrates the Agile Manifesto and is followed by a description of its four values.


Figure 3-2. The Manifesto for Agile Software Development

We Are Uncovering Better Ways

The first phrase of the manifesto deserves emphasis: “We are uncovering better ways of developing software by doing it and helping others do it.”

We interpret this phrase as an ongoing journey of discovery to increasingly embrace Agile behaviors, a journey that has no ending. SAFe is not a fixed, frozen-in-time framework. As soon as we uncover better ways of working, we adapt the framework, as evidenced by more than four major releases as of this writing.

Where We Find Value

We’ll discuss the values shortly, but the final phrase of the manifesto is important and sometimes overlooked: “That is, while there is value in the items on the right, we value the items on the left more.”

Some people may misinterpret the value statements as a decision between two choices (for example, working software versus comprehensive documentation). But that is not the intent. Both items have value; however, the item on the left has more value (for example, working software). The Agile Manifesto is a mantra for us not to be rigid or dogmatic in our approach but instead to embrace the need to balance the values depending on the context.

Individuals and Interactions over Processes and Tools

People build software and systems, and that requires teams to work together effectively. Processes and tools are important, but they do not replace individuals and interactions.

With respect to process, Deming notes, “If you can’t describe what you are doing as a process, then you don’t know what you are doing.” So, Agile processes in frameworks like Scrum, kanban, and SAFe do matter. However, a process is only a means to an end. When we’re captive to a process that isn’t working, you may know “what you’re doing,” but “what you’re doing may not be working.” So, favor individuals and interactions and then modify processes accordingly.

In a distributed environment, tools are critically important to assist with communication and collaboration (for example, video conferencing, instant messaging, ALM7 tools, wikis), especially at scale. However, tools should not be used as a substitute for regular, face-to-face communication.

Working Software over Comprehensive Documentation

Documentation is important and can provide great value (for example, user help, models, story mapping, regulatory/compliance documentation). However, creating documents for the sake of complying with outdated corporate governance models does not provide value. As part of a change program, governance needs to be updated to reflect the Lean-Agile way of working.

Software requirements specifications are tricky, and one could assume that the authors of the manifesto were particularly concerned about them. Too often, they cause Big Design Up Front (BDUF) and project delays consistent with waterfall thinking. They frequently constrain development to overly detailed written specs that are not always practical (or desirable) to implement. Moreover, people usually do not know what they want until they see it working in action.

Therefore, it’s more valuable to show your customer working software and get fast feedback, rather than create comprehensive documentation (especially the wrong kind) too early in the process. The goal of software development, after all, is to create innovative solutions, not a library of documents. Therefore, favor working software. Document only what’s necessary.

Customer Collaboration over Contract Negotiation

Customers are the ultimate deciders of value. Determining value requires close collaboration on a daily basis. Contracts are often necessary for communicating and agreeing on the rights, responsibilities, and economic concerns of each party. But all too often, contracts over-regulate what is to be done and how to do it. No matter how well they’re written, contracts are not a replacement for regular communication, collaboration, and trust. Contracts should be written to be win-win propositions. Win-lose contracts usually result in poor economic outcomes and distrust, creating short-term relationships instead of long-term business partnerships. Favor customer collaboration.

Responding to Change over Following a Plan

Change is a natural part of software and systems development, a reality that must be reflected in the process. The strength of Lean-Agile development is in how it embraces change. The process of product development is about converting uncertainty to knowledge. As the system evolves, so does the understanding of the problem and solution domain. Business stakeholder understanding also improves over time, and customer needs evolve as well. Indeed, this variability adds value to our system.

Of course, the phrase “over following a plan” means that there actually is a plan. Planning is an important part of Agile development. Indeed, Agile teams and programs plan more often and more continuously than teams using a waterfall process. However, plans must be adaptable as new learning occurs, new information becomes visible, and the situation changes. Worse, measuring conformance to a plan drives the wrong behaviors (following the plan over empiricism) and should be avoided.

Agile Manifesto Principles

The manifesto has 12 principles that support its values. Listed here, the principles take the values one step further and describe more specifically what it means to be Agile:

  • Our highest priority is to satisfy the customer through early and continuous delivery of valuable software.

  • Welcome changing requirements, even late in development. Agile processes harness change for the customer’s competitive advantage.

  • Working software is the primary measure of progress.

  • Deliver working software frequently within a couple of weeks to a couple of months, preferring a shorter timeline.

  • Business people and developers must work together daily throughout the project.

  • Build projects around motivated individuals. Give them the environment and support they need, and trust them to get the job done.

  • The most efficient and effective method of conveying information to and within a development team is face-to-face conversation.

  • Agile processes promote sustainable development. The sponsors, developers, and users should be able to maintain a constant pace indefinitely.

  • Continuous attention to technical excellence and good design enhances agility.

  • Simplicity—the art of maximizing the amount of work not done—is essential.

  • The best architectures, requirements, and designs emerge from self-organizing teams.

  • At regular intervals, the team reflects on how to become more effective, and then fine-tunes and adjusts its behavior accordingly.

Most of these are self-explanatory, so no further elaboration is needed, except for a discussion of applying the Agile Manifesto at scale, covered next.

This combination of values and principles in the manifesto creates a framework for what the Snowbird attendees believed to be the essence of Agile. The industry is the recipient of the extraordinary business and personal benefits of this new way of thinking and working. We are grateful.

  • + Share This
  • 🔖 Save To Your Account

InformIT Promotional Mailings & Special Offers

I would like to receive exclusive offers and hear about products from InformIT and its family of brands. I can unsubscribe at any time.


Pearson Education, Inc., 221 River Street, Hoboken, New Jersey 07030, (Pearson) presents this site to provide information about products and services that can be purchased through this site.

This privacy notice provides an overview of our commitment to privacy and describes how we collect, protect, use and share personal information collected through this site. Please note that other Pearson websites and online products and services have their own separate privacy policies.

Collection and Use of Information

To conduct business and deliver products and services, Pearson collects and uses personal information in several ways in connection with this site, including:

Questions and Inquiries

For inquiries and questions, we collect the inquiry or question, together with name, contact details (email address, phone number and mailing address) and any other additional information voluntarily submitted to us through a Contact Us form or an email. We use this information to address the inquiry and respond to the question.

Online Store

For orders and purchases placed through our online store on this site, we collect order details, name, institution name and address (if applicable), email address, phone number, shipping and billing addresses, credit/debit card information, shipping options and any instructions. We use this information to complete transactions, fulfill orders, communicate with individuals placing orders or visiting the online store, and for related purposes.


Pearson may offer opportunities to provide feedback or participate in surveys, including surveys evaluating Pearson products, services or sites. Participation is voluntary. Pearson collects information requested in the survey questions and uses the information to evaluate, support, maintain and improve products, services or sites, develop new products and services, conduct educational research and for other purposes specified in the survey.

Contests and Drawings

Occasionally, we may sponsor a contest or drawing. Participation is optional. Pearson collects name, contact information and other information specified on the entry form for the contest or drawing to conduct the contest or drawing. Pearson may collect additional personal information from the winners of a contest or drawing in order to award the prize and for tax reporting purposes, as required by law.


If you have elected to receive email newsletters or promotional mailings and special offers but want to unsubscribe, simply email information@informit.com.

Service Announcements

On rare occasions it is necessary to send out a strictly service related announcement. For instance, if our service is temporarily suspended for maintenance we might send users an email. Generally, users may not opt-out of these communications, though they can deactivate their account information. However, these communications are not promotional in nature.

Customer Service

We communicate with users on a regular basis to provide requested services and in regard to issues relating to their account we reply via email or phone in accordance with the users' wishes when a user submits their information through our Contact Us form.

Other Collection and Use of Information

Application and System Logs

Pearson automatically collects log data to help ensure the delivery, availability and security of this site. Log data may include technical information about how a user or visitor connected to this site, such as browser type, type of computer/device, operating system, internet service provider and IP address. We use this information for support purposes and to monitor the health of the site, identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents and appropriately scale computing resources.

Web Analytics

Pearson may use third party web trend analytical services, including Google Analytics, to collect visitor information, such as IP addresses, browser types, referring pages, pages visited and time spent on a particular site. While these analytical services collect and report information on an anonymous basis, they may use cookies to gather web trend information. The information gathered may enable Pearson (but not the third party web trend services) to link information with application and system log data. Pearson uses this information for system administration and to identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents, appropriately scale computing resources and otherwise support and deliver this site and its services.

Cookies and Related Technologies

This site uses cookies and similar technologies to personalize content, measure traffic patterns, control security, track use and access of information on this site, and provide interest-based messages and advertising. Users can manage and block the use of cookies through their browser. Disabling or blocking certain cookies may limit the functionality of this site.

Do Not Track

This site currently does not respond to Do Not Track signals.


Pearson uses appropriate physical, administrative and technical security measures to protect personal information from unauthorized access, use and disclosure.


This site is not directed to children under the age of 13.


Pearson may send or direct marketing communications to users, provided that

  • Pearson will not use personal information collected or processed as a K-12 school service provider for the purpose of directed or targeted advertising.
  • Such marketing is consistent with applicable law and Pearson's legal obligations.
  • Pearson will not knowingly direct or send marketing communications to an individual who has expressed a preference not to receive marketing.
  • Where required by applicable law, express or implied consent to marketing exists and has not been withdrawn.

Pearson may provide personal information to a third party service provider on a restricted basis to provide marketing solely on behalf of Pearson or an affiliate or customer for whom Pearson is a service provider. Marketing preferences may be changed at any time.

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user's personally identifiable information changes (such as your postal address or email address), we provide a way to correct or update that user's personal data provided to us. This can be done on the Account page. If a user no longer desires our service and desires to delete his or her account, please contact us at customer-service@informit.com and we will process the deletion of a user's account.


Users can always make an informed choice as to whether they should proceed with certain services offered by InformIT. If you choose to remove yourself from our mailing list(s) simply visit the following page and uncheck any communication you no longer want to receive: www.informit.com/u.aspx.

Sale of Personal Information

Pearson does not rent or sell personal information in exchange for any payment of money.

While Pearson does not sell personal information, as defined in Nevada law, Nevada residents may email a request for no sale of their personal information to NevadaDesignatedRequest@pearson.com.

Supplemental Privacy Statement for California Residents

California residents should read our Supplemental privacy statement for California residents in conjunction with this Privacy Notice. The Supplemental privacy statement for California residents explains Pearson's commitment to comply with California law and applies to personal information of California residents collected in connection with this site and the Services.

Sharing and Disclosure

Pearson may disclose personal information, as follows:

  • As required by law.
  • With the consent of the individual (or their parent, if the individual is a minor)
  • In response to a subpoena, court order or legal process, to the extent permitted or required by law
  • To protect the security and safety of individuals, data, assets and systems, consistent with applicable law
  • In connection the sale, joint venture or other transfer of some or all of its company or assets, subject to the provisions of this Privacy Notice
  • To investigate or address actual or suspected fraud or other illegal activities
  • To exercise its legal rights, including enforcement of the Terms of Use for this site or another contract
  • To affiliated Pearson companies and other companies and organizations who perform work for Pearson and are obligated to protect the privacy of personal information consistent with this Privacy Notice
  • To a school, organization, company or government agency, where Pearson collects or processes the personal information in a school setting or on behalf of such organization, company or government agency.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that we are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of each and every web site that collects Personal Information. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this web site.

Requests and Contact

Please contact us about this Privacy Notice or if you have any requests or questions relating to the privacy of your personal information.

Changes to this Privacy Notice

We may revise this Privacy Notice through an updated posting. We will identify the effective date of the revision in the posting. Often, updates are made to provide greater clarity or to comply with changes in regulatory requirements. If the updates involve material changes to the collection, protection, use or disclosure of Personal Information, Pearson will provide notice of the change through a conspicuous notice on this site or other appropriate way. Continued use of the site after the effective date of a posted revision evidences acceptance. Please contact us if you have questions or concerns about the Privacy Notice or any objection to any revisions.

Last Update: November 17, 2020