Agile Manifesto: What has happened in the last 20 years?

Agile Manifesto


„Agile is an attitude, not a technique with boundaries. An attitude has no boundaries, so we wouldn’t ask ‘can I use agile here’, but rather ‘how would I act in the agile way here?’ or ‘how agile can we be here’?“

Dr. Alistair Cockburn

Time flies when you did something anthological and special for one business mindset or methodology. 2020 was so… how do we say – challenging? It put us on a test when we’re talking about our vision of sharing a good education. Especially in agile.

Starting point

Well, the Agile Manifesto was written in 2001, almost 20 years ago. It has 12 valuable Principles. Most of the Manifesto’s authors worked on various software development methodologies: eXtreme Programming, Scrum, DSDM, Crystal, Adaptive Software Development, Feature Driven Development, and with certain concepts like design-driven development, refactoring, pragmatic programming and modeling languages.

Imagine one ski resort in the USA and cold February 2001. Seventeen amazing guys met in order to ski, relax, talk, eat and prepare something big.

These are magnificent names in various world’s of software development. They made something revolutionary that changed the business climate in each working area.

„We were fighting a particular battle back in the late 1990s, literally trying to get permission to talk with our customers and users and to deliver partial systems for early use and evaluation and feedback. The manifesto reflects that battle. We are not having that battle anymore, largely due to the digital transformation that happened and the fast pace of technology – the methods from the 1990s wouldn’t be acceptable today even without the manifesto.“

Dr. Alistair Cockburn

But more important is – how Agile has changed in the past?

The context for an Agile Mindset has changed a lot. Really a lot. We can distinguish the development of Agile in the past, then how it really works in present after defining of Agile Manifesto and what are predictions for the future. You can see that changes are inevitable and those changes are recommended and in the spirit of Agile mindset.

Agile: The past

„Study the past if you would define the future.“


When we talk about the late 1950s and the period before Manifesto, we can talk about Lean methodology. Oh, that lean – when an American expert W. Edwards Deming put his fingers and knowledge into Toyota in order to give this company a whole new approach. Lean Principles are also valuable for today’s business especially when we have trust in workers’ and customers’ perspectives.

Then we had big 90s. Software revolution was inevitable but still, we had a situation where most projects were at worst completely failing to deliver. In 1986 Ikujiro Nonaka and Hirotaka Takeuchi introduced the term scrum in the context of product development in their article ”The New Product Development Game”. Later, Jeff Sutherland and Ken Schwaber worked together to integrate their ideas into a single framework – Scrum. We can’t forget Scrum Principles and how they are helpful in each business area.

Finally, in the early 2000s, the history of Agile – and the future of development – changed forever. Actually – a Manifesto was born, where Agile comes into focus. Four values and 12 principles continue to guide the Agile approach used by teams today.

Agile: The present

„Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow has not yet come. We have only today. Let us begin.“

Zadie Smith

This is a big truth: Agile goes mainstream. While Agile took off in the early 2000s, we saw the Agile Manifesto pick up new steam in the 2010s.

By this time, the history of Agile was a commonly told story among development teams, but between 2012 and 2015, serious life success metrics began to support that story. As a result of the ability to demonstrate success in Agile at that point, the benefits of adopting the Agile became undeniable. Today, we hear a lot about DevOps, or the idea of creating a continuous kink of delivery in which new software can go to market at any time and is always ready for production.

Also, very often we’re witnesses of interfering Agile and Scrum. Let’s be clear – it’s not the same. Agile is a complex mindset that is involved in every aspect of your business. Not only in procedures and policy. That’s why agile way of working and doing demands time and patience. Especially the time. According to Agile Serbia LinkedIn survey, half of the respondents said that they’re specific when we talk about using some Agile frameworks (especially Agile values and principles).

Agile: The future

„The future depends on what you do today.“

Mahatma Gandhi

Here’s the main question: Can the Agile Manifesto stand the test of time?

While no one knows the future, it’s safe to say that the history of Agile isn’t complete. But the next chapter in that history book might look a bit different than what we’ve seen so far.

This new year promises big changes, but according to some predictions this will happen:

  • Design and development teams will collaborate more at the initiation of a project
  • Development resources from large enterprises will be more outsourced. In turn, this will initiate a rise of more start-up shops or smaller agencies or businesses
  • In the coming years, Scrum will be applied to large-scale enterprise initiatives, not just design and development teams
  • Feedbacks are now more important than ever and will reshape the way enterprises do business
  • Human data and business data into the way we work and how we make decisions will be more imperative

Are you familiar with this? We hope that you’re living these Principles in order to become a truly Sensei in each segment of your work. February 2021 will mark the 20th anniversary of this special moment and we can’t forget how it made an impact on our way of working.

For example, almost three-quarters (71%) of organizations report is using Agile approaches sometimes, often, or always. Also, Agile projects are 28% more successful than traditional projects. (Sources: Project Management Institute and PwC)

As Dr. Alistair Cockburn mentioned once:

„Collaborate. It’s mostly attitude. Deliver partial solutions early, to learn. Pause, and reflect on what is happening, what you would like to happen. Improve, baby steps, baby improvements.“, and we can surely relate to these words, right?

One is sure: Agile changed our way of living and working and we hope that the next 20 years will be meaningful as well as the last 20 years.

Check out PART 2

  • InformationWeek
  • world IT
  • ItProPortal
  • Agile For All
  • TeachBeacon