The Declaration of Interdependence

The Declaration of Interdependence can be viewed at

Since we celebrate the signing of the Declaration of Independence on the 4th of July, I thought it was a good time to look at another declaration related to the agile space.  In 2005 a group of leaders in the agile space (Jim Highsmith, David Anderson, Mike Cohn, Christopher Avery, Todd Little, Pollyanna Pixton, Doug Decarlo, Donna Fitzgerald, and Lowell Lindstrom) got together to form what is now known as the Agile Leadership Network.  They created the Declaration of Interdependence “to serve as guiding principles to employ Agile and adaptive approaches for linking people, projects and value.”

We are a community of project leaders that are highly successful at delivering results. To achieve these results:

  • We increase return on investment by making continuous flow of value our focus.
  • We deliver reliable results by engaging customers in frequent interactions and shared ownership.
  • We expect uncertainty and manage for it through iterations, anticipation, and adaptation.
  • We unleash creativity and innovation by recognizing that individuals are the ultimate source of value, and creating an environment where they can make a difference.
  • We boost performance through group accountability for results and shared responsibility for team effectiveness.
  • We improve effectiveness and reliability through situationally specific strategies, processes and practices.

Unlike the Agile Manifesto which is very software development focused, this declaration does a good job at providing a much more general description of the values and principles that were behind the Agile Manifesto.  I think this is a good list for anyone interested in agile to look at as I think it provides a bit more detail as to why the values in the Agile Manifesto are what they are.

Individuals and Interactions over Processes and Tools

Why do we value individuals and interactions over processes and tools?  Because we recognize that individuals are the ultimate source of value, and creating an environment where they can make a difference will unleash creativity and innovation.  Also, group accountability for results and shared responsibility for team effectiveness boosts performance.  We also see that processes are important as they help us improve effectiveness and reliability, though we have to understand the context and situation.

Working Software over Comprehensive Documentation

Why do we value working software over comprehensive documentation?  Primarily because providing a continuous flow of value to our customer increases return on investment.  It also helps foster the frequent customer interactions which help us deliver reliable results.  It also helps us keep our work in progress low so that we are better equipped to handle the unexpected.

Customer Collaboration over Contract Negotiation

Why do we value customer collaboration over contract negotiation?  Because engaging our customers in frequent interactions and shared ownership helps us deliver reliable results.

Responding to Change over Following a Plan

Why do we value responding to change over following a plan?  Because we expect uncertainty.

I have often found the Agile Manifesto lacking quite a bit of detail.  It provides some values and principles, but doesn’t do a great job of explaining why those values and principles exist.  I think the Declaration of Interdependence does a better job of this by including the “why” in their statements about what they value.  How has the Declaration of Interdependence improved your understanding of agile?

The image at the top of this post, “Declaration of Interdependence”, is a derivative of “The Declaration of Independence” by Marion Doss, used under CC BY-SA. “Declaration of Interdependence” is licensed under CC BY-SA by Development Block, LLC.


Comments on this entry are closed.

%d bloggers like this: