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“Over’s” Usefulness in Decision Making

This post is from Jim Highsmith .com by Jim Highsmith. Click here to see the original post in full.

The Agile Manifesto was written in a very deliberate style, for example, “Individuals and interactions over process and tools.” The word “over” was carefully chosen and establishes a key agile principle that many things in our world are too complex for black or white answers so we need to differentiate between what is critical and what is important.

To continue with our example, it’s not that process and tools are unimportant—there are a myriad of tools that increase the productivity of agile teams—but that in the final analysis, people are more important. Think of it this way. If you were a project manager, would you rather have the best tools and processes, but mediocre people; or talented people and so-so tools and processes? Obviously, we would pick the latter. However, that selection doesn’t make tools or process unimportant. How would you like to run a great team that had no tools? It’s just that sometimes we have to make hard decisions and having a series of “over” value statements can help.

Software development reflects the business world today—complex, uncertain, fast, risky, volatile. These traits dictate that development efforts have to be adaptable, customized, and evolutionary. There isn’t a single correct practice or method for every project. However, this doesn’t mean that anything goes—that there aren’t preferences. While we have to be adaptable, we also have to make decisions, and ultimately...

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