The Devil’s in the Detail

The first and most important thing I share with any team I work with are the Agile Values, also known the XP Values from Kent Beck and Cynthia Andres.

The Five Agile Values

1. Communication is a two way thing. It’s about talking and listening.

2. Simplicity is about simple solutions that do what’s required, no more, no less. Simplicity is synonymous with elegance.

3. Feedback has three axes: Giving feedback, receiving feedback and taking action as a result of the feedback.

4. Courage is about taking calculated risks. It’s about facing and voicing the brutal facts. It’s also about creating an environment where people can be courageous.

5. Respect is an appreciation that everyone can add value. It’s also about valuing diversity.

Agile Values++

During our peer coaching, Pascal and I identified two more vital values to add to the set:

6. Trust is about giving people a chance to do the right thing and to do things right.

7. Transparency means sharing information as much as possible to help create more Real Options for all parties involved.

What the Agile Values mean in practice

Newcomers to Agile often ask me: ‘How do you know if someone is really agile?‘ To which I reply, ‘They follow the Agile Values even at times of great stress.’ Those who compromise on the Values can never be truly agile, especially if they get stuck in Denial.

In my experience, Respect is the toughest and most important value because it forms the foundation for the rest. You have to respect others and yourself to really make the other values count.

The Telltale Heart

I regularly meet Agilistas who appear to respect others and themselves, yet they are incapable of accepting feedback and taking action. According to Marshall Goldsmith, the only correct response to any feedback is: ‘Thank You’. What do you say when someone gives you feedback?

14 Responses to “The Devil’s in the Detail”

  1. Chris Hedgate writes:

    Portia, I agree completely. Having a set of shared values opens up lots of possibilities to reflect and improve.

    Do you have any specific way of introducing the Agile Values to the team you are working with? How do you work to make them shared values?

  2. portiatung writes:

    Hi Chris,

    Good questions. The reply will come in a new blog entry shortly!

  3. How agile are you really? | Selfish Programming writes:

    […] them that there are 5 Agile Values, also known as the XP Values by Kent Beck and Cynthia […]

  4. portiatung writes:

    Hi Chris,

    Here’s how I introduce the Agile Values to a team:

  5. Jef writes:


    If I am not mistaking, these are the original XP values. Calling the ones above ‘the agile values’ makes me wonder: How do you relate them to the values the Agile Manifesto states?

    Thanks, regards, Jef

  6. Thinking for a Change » Good == Agile writes:

    […] in most (relatively small teams, software-intensive, initial steps into process improvement), the 7 Agile Values serve as a good starting point to define the software development principles and practices that are […]

  7. Extreme Enthusiasm » Blog Archive » I value simplicity writes:

    […] comes from a fundamental, basic, philosophic difference in values. I value simplicity. Of the 5 (or 7) XP values, this is the one that for me does not even need explaining. I think “surely […]

  8. portiatung writes:

    Hi Chris,

    I’ve found that an effective way of creating a team is by helping them create their own Team Manifesto. You can read more about the exercise here:

    In my experience, the Team Values exercise usually results in ‘Collaboration’ or ‘Working Together’ being identified as a team value. Since the Agile Values of Community, Simplicity, Feedback, Courage and Respect are what make up Collaboration, the Agile Values become much more meaningful (and, more importantly, relevant) to the team.

    I look forward to hearing about what you think about such exercises.

    – Portia

  9. portiatung writes:

    Hi Jef,

    Many thanks for your question. I don’t mention the Agile Manifesto explicitly when I coach. You can read more about my approach here:

    I’m very interested in getting your thoughts on it.

    Many thanks,

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    […] Now, that’s T-R-U-S-T, one of the essential Agile Values. […]

  13. Plain as the Nose on Your Face | Selfish Programming writes:

    […] this: ‘I can be better than I was yesterday.’ This thought always takes me back to the Agile Values. Seven simple words. Communication, Simplicity, Feedback, Courage, Respect, Trust and Transparency. […]

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