Content strategy lives and dies on the thoroughness and efficacy of its project management. These 12 Agile Principles help make sure content planning is on track for success.
What is agile planning?
In a world where knowledge work is more present than ever, the need for a flexible planning process has come to the fore. This is how the agile planning process was created.
How does it differ from the traditional way of project planning?
Agile planning consists of a specific element that differentiates it and makes it efficient to this specific need - it is adaptive to changes, whereas traditional project planning is a more concrete and cumbersome process.
In the traditional project planning process, everything is planned for long periods of time, even for years ahead in the future. However, in the agile planning method, plans are made only for shorter periods of time. This allows changes more easily so that not many factors are affected.
This is the reason why agile planning is also characterized by repeatability, allowing multiple adaptations and changes depending on the new needs that may arise.
It is interesting to have a look at a part of the “Agile Manifesto”, where the priorities of Agile planning are more clear and concise:
"Individuals and interactions over processes and tools, Working software over comprehensive documentation, Customer collaboration over contract negotiation, Responding to change over following a plan. That is, while there is value in the items on the right, we value the items on the left more."
Agile planning could be easily implemented if one would follow the “12 Agile Principles”. The aforementioned principles work as a clear path to a successful project plan by utilizing the agile process and the flexible abilities it offers.
History of the 12 principles
As we progressed to the 2000s, many of the traditional production processes had changed into what we call knowledge work and is widely represented by the meaning “office work”. With that change, the need for an alternative project planning process had become clear. During the winter of 2021, this need was met by seventeen professionals from the software development field, when - between their discussions around skiing, relaxation, and food - they created the Agile Planning Manifesto, and based it around the 12 Principles of Agile Planning.
The first concerns that emerged had to do with the simple worry that not many people would know the word “agile” and to a more core problem that being agile could equal vagueness and difficulty in reaching a substantial agreement of things. However, it looked like all the participants had the same concerns, which eventually led to a delightful agreement of what their priorities are and what do they value most - leading to the creation of the Agile Manifesto. This group of independent thinkers is now called “The Agile Alliance”.
Overview of the 12 principles
1. Satisfying the customers
It all begins with the audience, customers, and consumers, and offering value to them at the right time and place. Rather than adopting the "we know what's best" model, the agile concept focuses on approaching a project from the standpoint of the user. The agile principles therefore emphasise that customer satisfaction should always be the first priority as a team.
2. Welcoming change
It's never too late to modify the direction of a project. The capacity to harness and welcome change and to alter the direction at any point in time is an important aspect of the agile approach.
What happens if a project is about to end and there's an unexpected request for a new feature? Traditional ways might say that changes in the end stages of a project are nearly impossible to incorporate. But Agile emphasises that it is far more preferable to change direction at the last minute than to provide something that is out of sync or irrelevant.
3. Frequent delivery
The Agile mindset focuses on dividing projects into smaller parts and delivering a functioning version of the end product frequently throughout the project development. Because of project results being delivered more often than in traditional methodologies, it leads to frequent feedback and on going adaptations throughout the project.
4. Working together
With the agile approach, continuous communication within a project team is key. It’s highly encouraged to collaborate between different departments and with different people that are important to the project such as clients, sales people and the technical experts. The agile principles emphasise that everyone should be connected throughout the process.
5. Trust and support
The 12 agile principles highlight that people will do their best work and generate great outcomes in the right atmosphere, with the right support and trust. Like the original 12 Principles behind the Agile Manifesto states, it is crucial to "build projects around motivated individuals. Give them the environment and support they need, and trust them to get the job done".
6. Face to Face communication
Frequent face-to-face discussions amongst team members are crucial in Agile processes. Misunderstandings are less likely and more information can be transmitted faster. Face to face communication also makes it possible to shorten the time between asking a question and receiving a response.
7. Working software
Now the original text of the agile manifesto states that “Working software is the primary measure of progress.” When using the agile principles in other sectors, this principle can be translated into the need to deliver current functioning versions of the end product or end result throughout the project. This makes it easier to analyse the status quo of a project. It furthermore leads to an ongoing loop of feedback and adaptations, and as we've established in the third principles, this process of assessment and change is crucial to an agile process.
8. Sustainable development
Agile processes highly promote sustainable development. Throughout the project, the team is supposed to maintain a consistent and sustainable pace. When putting the Agile principles into reality, the goal is to avoid overburdening the project team and optimising the way they operate so that it is possible to deliver regularly and to easily adjust to change.
9. Continuous attention
The 12 Agile Principles emphasise that “Continuous attention to technical excellence and good design enhances agility.” This means that frequent testing and monitoring makes it easier to identify and resolve issues as soon as they emerge.
10. Maintain simplicity
The original meaning of this concept might seem a little confusing at first glance: "Simplicity–the art of maximising the quantity of labor not done–is crucial." It is, nonetheless, highly practical. The emphasis is on doing the things that can have the most impact while minimising the work that doesn’t add value to the project. Because ultimately the success of a project is not evaluated by the time and effort that was put into the it, but by the final outcome.
11. Self-organising teams
Self-organisation fosters a culture of ownership and accountability. Moreover it encourages a company to be more adaptive and resilient. Teams that are agile must be able to make choices without being micromanaged. The agile principles furthermore highlight the necessity for individuals to be able to fully manage their responsibilities within the project.
12. Reflection and adjustments
It's just as vital to experiment with the process as it is to experiment with the products and services within the project. The agile mindset is about continual improvement rather than adhering to a rigidly defined methodology therefore it is encouraged to try out new methods throughout the project.
Find out more:
Implementing the 12 Agile Principles can help a project in the following ways:
Improving the workflow by focussing on the most relevant areas of a project
Gaining valuable input after delivering the status quo of the project frequently
Being more efficient by constantly assessing and adapting both the project and the prevalent workflow
Creating and fostering a positive work environment
Improving the teamwork by encouraging communication between the different departments
Where to go from here
Here you can find more information about the 12 agile principles: