Values vs. Principles vs. Practices in the Iron Cage of Death*: Three Go in, One Comes Out

Discussions about where to start with Agile approaches tend to devolve into “you got your practices in my values”...”no, you got your values in my practices.” Trying to bridge the gap, some folks say, “look at the principles for guidance.” None of these works.

In reality, we have to have it all. We need values to use as filters for our decisions. We need principles to give us ideas about what values look like when they come out of the clouds and into actual work on the ground. We need practices to...ummm...practice, to understand and build skill in our craft. In fact, we need all three to combine in the optimum blend. Three go in, one optimum blend comes out.

That’s where our skill as practitioners of Agile becomes critical, creating the blend of values-based, principle-guided, practice-grounded environments where project teams can succeed at delivering value to the customers.

* Many thanks to @agilecoach, Rob Myers, for the “in the Iron Cage of Death” metaphor, and to Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome for the image that pops into my mind every time I say or write it.