The Problem with Principles

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Timing: 30-60 mins


  • Whiteboards
  • Markers
  • Set of four coloured sticky notes for each player


Begin by reviewing the four value statements from the Agile Manifesto.  Draw on the whiteboard a matrix of complexity on the vertical axis  and impact on the horizontal axis with a scale of low, medium and high. Draw out all 9 resulting boxes of the matrix.

Assign a colour (one of the four sticky note colours) to each of the four statements in the manifesto.

Ask all particpants to place each of their four stickies into the appropriate place on the matrix based on their assessment of the impact and compexity the value statement it represents.

Encourage discussion amongst players while placing their sticky notes.

Once completed review what the group has assessed as the impact and challenge of adopting the value system implied by the Agile Manifesto

Learning Points:

  • Reinforces and drives meaningful discussion about the Values and Principles of Agile
  • Facilitates the discussion about what Agile means to the team and organization.
  • Set’s the stage for understanding the purpose and intent of Agile practices and techniques.

Posted by Mike McCullough

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One Response to "The Problem with Principles"
  • Maciej Kurek April 6, 2012 at 1:54 am

    Hello Mike,

    Could you please elaborate more on the complexity and impact of Agile Principles&Values we are meant to assess? We were playing that game in scope of our Agile Community of Practice and after introducing rules we can find on that page the audience was not sure about the context of both complexity and impact. In result we came to the conclusion complexity should be considered at team level eg. How complex is it to incorporate working software over comprehensive documentation for a team. When it comes to impact we did the assessment with the assumption of what impact on an organization value X or Y has. Meaning, how much does the organization have to change to make sure collaboration with customer is more valuable than contract negotiation.

    Is that what you meant while designing that game? I am still concerned deeper meaning of complexity and impact on the axises.


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