May 18, 2015

Agile Clock

Do you want to pass a small test? It is very simple - please reproduce in the exact sequence literally four values of ​​Agile Manifesto.

Well, how did it go? If you succeeded, then you get my congratulations.

3 years ago I failed the test, though I knew the Scrum Guide almost literally and was extremely proud of this fact.

Now I often have to explain this "cultural thing" (Agile Manifesto) to managers and company owners. After all, most of the organizations want to implement Scrum now. But they always learn about the "culture" from me first and only then get the desired framework itself. To put culture ahead is quite natural approach for an Agile Coach.

Talking about Values. Values are often interpreted differently. For example, ask your friends what they mean by "Trust", and you will get a lot of different answers. Which one is true? Each of them. Values are quite abstract, nevertheless they are expressed in a certain human behavior. We always look at the world through our own glasses. Therefore, the meaning of values should be clarified first. Then we can agree on certain observable and measurable patterns of behavior that support those values.

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A proper understanding of Agile Manifesto is VERY important for the subsequent introduction of Scrum. I used to go beyond the four values and always suggest to clarify the twelve principles. They are less abstract and can be easily understood. I often use the game which I call  "The Agile Clock."

Agile clock. The game is based on an exercise Pocket-sized Principles. For the game we need:

  • About 30 minutes of time.

  • Bikablo Icons or stickers 76x76 mm.

  • Printed 12 principles of Agile Manifesto.

  • Flip-chart paper.

  • Paper tape.

  • Scissors.

  • Stickers.

  • Timer.


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Divide participants into groups of no more than 5 people. This is the most comfortable group size for any discussing or problem-solving. Every team is given a copy of 12 principles of Agile Manifesto.

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The challenge - within 20 minutes each team needs to express the essence of each principle in three words or less. Words should be written on stickers and hung within the circle on a flip chart. Thus, we create the clock. Each number on the clock corresponds to a specific principle of Agile Manifesto. Also, I ask to choose the most appropriate icon from the Bikablo Icons set for each principle and pin it to the flip-chart too. If the set is not available, then I ask to visualize the principle by hand.

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Very soon each team has a smart Agile Clock. Additionally I give 3-5 minutes to wander around the room and examine the clocks made by other groups. Then it makes sense to go through the principles and briefly discuss them.


Visualization and metaphors always provide excellent results in teaching for me. People quickly come to a common understanding Agile Manifesto principles and remember them for a long time.

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And finally, my advice to you - from time to time re-read the values and principles of the Agile Manifesto. They inspire and help to focus on the most essential points.