The Agile Manifesto little known facts

Jarosław Łojko
3 min readNov 9, 2021

This year, more precisely between February 11–13th, the Agile Manifesto For Software Development, known as the “Agile Manifesto” celebrated its 20th birthday. As part of the celebration of the round anniversary, I would like to present a few interesting and less known facts about this publication and the event itself. I hope that I will also debunk a few myths that have arisen around the topic over the past two decades.

The Agile Manifesto form emerged during the meeting

Let’s start with the goal of the Utah winter meetup. It was a rather informal initiative of people who deal with IT projects on a daily basis. A group of 17 engineers who came to the Lodge ski resort in 2001 did not know what the final form of the manifesto, tentatively termed “Lighweight Method Manifesto” (LwmManifesto)”, would take. It is true that its creation was on the agenda of the meeting, but nobody knew then what would come of it. Below is a screen from the official note / e-mail from before the meeting, published some time ago on Twitter by Alistair Cockburn.

As we can read on the original website commemorating this event, everyone met to “talk, ski, relax, try to find common ground and of course eat.”

Jeff Sutherland, co-founder of Scrum, recalls that there were few topics and views shared equally by everyone. Some of them, such as Alistair Cockburn and Martin Fowler, had serious concerns that this group of people would work out something essential in terms of content and agree on a common version of something.

However, during a 15-minute coffee break, at the beginning of the second day of the convention, an impatient Martin Fowler took the initiative to find some common ground. He wanted to put all the discussions together so that the time devoted to them would not be irretrievably lost. He started by asking a simple question: what REALLY is important in carrying out IT projects? What does their success depend on? The first was the famous “People and Interactions” …

Apparently, the creation of further postulates and the Manifesto formula went surprisingly quickly. When the break was over, the four Agile Manifesto values ​​in their form unchanged to this day were ready. Within a dozen or so minutes, it was possible to formulate something that summed up not only the many hours of discussions, but also the experience of the gathered people built over the years. Supposedly, it was even more surprising that after the break, everyone agreed as to the phrases on the board.

Ten years have passed as one day

A decade after the first version of the Manifesto was written, fifteen of its original signatories met again. It took place at a discussion panel as part of the Agile2011 conference in U.S.A. When asked if they would change anything or add to the original Agile Manifesto values, they again agreed. Namely, that it would be the annotation “ We really mean it, we’re not kidding… ”.

Americans can’t pronounce “agile”

Martin Fowler was the only one who opposed the designation of the Manifesto and the whole approach as “Agile”. He argued that the Americans, unlike the British who he is, would not pronounce the word correctly. Previously, various alternative IT project implementation methods, such as Scrum, Extreme Programming, DSDM or Crystal, were referred to as light (leight, leightweight). Other ideas that ran through the group’s head include:

Adaptive — The term refers directly to the transition from a predictive approach to planning to an adaptive one.
This idea was eventually rejected because the method developed by Jim Highsmith had the same name. As the authors of the Manifesto laugh, choosing it, they would automatically ascribe all the merits to him.

Hummingbird — that is …what it says, a bird 😉 There were over 20 ideas in total.

The term “Agile” was proposed by Mike Beadle and, as he admits, he borrowed it from the book “Agile Competitors and Virtual Organizations”