The most valuable things I’ve discovered in 20 years of Agile

This is, of course, not a complete list of what is valuable.  However, these are concepts outside of mainstream Agile, although many approaches recommend some of them.

A note about the content here. Unfortunately, much of what’s on this list isn’t well known. Worse, much of it is now being discussed by those who were (or still are) denying its value as recently as five years ago. You don’t go from debunker to expert in that period of time. I ask that people use their own judgement on whether these concepts make sense.

  1. Systems-Thinking
  2. Lean-Thinking
    • Lean Management (Towards Middle Up Down Management)
    • Value streams
    • Value Stream Impedance Scorecard
  3. Flow-Thinking
  4. Minimum Business Increments
  5. The value of cross-functional teams
  6. Test-First
  7. Emergent Design

Systems Thinking

Systems thinking is considering a system to be an interrelated and interdependent set of parts which is defined by its boundaries and is more than the sum of its parts (subsystems). Changing one part of the system affects other parts and the whole system, with predictable patterns of behavior. Positive growth and adaptation of a system depend upon how well the system is adjusted with its environment, and systems often exist to accomplish a common purpose (a work function) that also aids in the maintenance of the system or the operations may result in system failure. The goal of systems thinking is systematically discovering a system’s dynamics, constraints, conditions and elucidating principles (purpose, measure, methods, tools, etc.) that can be discerned and applied to systems at every level of nesting, and in every field for achieving an optimized end state through various means.


Lean-Thinking originates from Toyota but has been extended by several Lean thinkers to apply to products being developed that has a software component.


Minimum Business Increments

Minimum business increments are an essential part of Agile at scale where the coordination of realizable value must be accomplished by more than one team.

The value of cross-functional teams

Scrum works, when it does, because of its focus on cross-functional teams.


Emergent Design