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What does 'Individuals and interactions over processes and tools' even mean???

Last post 08:22 pm July 14, 2022 by Darcy DeClute
4 replies
04:54 pm July 14, 2022

We've all read the Manifesto.

And we all consider ourselves to be Agile.

Substance over symbolism

But when I look at the different values, and dig below the surface, I wonder if there is really any substance to them.

For example, what exactly does "Individuals and interactions over processes and tools" even mean?

Is it anything more than a meaningless catch-phrase you'd see on one of those silly motivational posters? Is there really anything of value here?

Time to revisit the Manifesto?

And for that matter, in a world of DevOps where tools automate every process, from Jenkins doing continuous deployment, to GitHub Co-Pilot writing the code, is a point like this even relevant anymore?

Maybe the Manifesto is out of date and needs revisiting?

I'm working on an article about this topic, and would really enjoy hearing the perspectives of people on this forum.



05:25 pm July 14, 2022

what exactly does "Individuals and interactions over processes and tools" even mean?

I am reminded that people are both smarter and lazier than the machines they rely on.

in a world of DevOps where tools automate every process

That's when I am reminded most. Plugging in tools and switching them on is easy. Processes are automated. However, the organizations have tools but don't have DevOps. Organizational change is hard.

05:40 pm July 14, 2022

This is how I have thought about the Manifesto. To me, the most important line is:

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

I never read it as "don't use processes and tools", rather the Manifesto puts people first and suggests we allow self-managing teams and their bottoms-up intelligence to choose what works best for them.

I would also point out that while DevOps might be important for Scrum Teams building software, Agile and Scrum are branching out beyond that domain, into marketing, biotech, HR, hardware, data analytics and anywhere complex problems need to be solved.

08:02 pm July 14, 2022

This is entirely my opinion and I mean no offense to anyone with what I say. 

Given that most of the original signatories of the Manifesto for agile software development have said that the original purpose for the item has failed and many wish that it had never been written, I really don't see any reason to revisit it. It will just become more commercialized for the reasons like you mention.

The manifesto was never meant to be a "do this not that" list.  It was to provide some insights into how agile software development was different from the old style waterfall project management. Everything it states is still true and viable.  However, after the manifesto was provided people were quick to try and find ways of making money from the writings.  The verb agile became a noun as Agile and commercialization started.  (This is why the signatories say it failed).  I feel like any attempts to revisit or update would just further the commercialization of it.  

The specific statement you picked does have current relevance.  

Individuals and interactions over processes and tools

As @Chris points out there is value on the right but the signatories valued the left more.  Processes and tools have value to make things predictable and easier.   However, they are no replacement for individuals interacting together to share and analyze information to arrive at answers.  In fact, until individuals interact, processes and tools can not be used. 

08:22 pm July 14, 2022

Well said, team!

You're definitely making me think about that Agile value in a new way.

Exactly what I love posting here!