The Agile Mnemonic

Posted 3/7/2016 10:55:08 AM by LOUIS-PHILIPPE CARIGNAN,

The Agile Mnemonic
Mnemonic Definition:

“Aiding or designed to aid the memory”

I have often been in situation where people want a summary of Agile. Being too busy with work (and life), they want it straight and simple so they can have something quick and easy which they can recall when we talk about Agile. Even at the end of a class, I have met students who look for a simple way to remember the core of Agile.

To meet such a need, I use the Agile mnemonic which I call the 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 mnemonic. It is an aid to sum up Agile and its core part. It looks something like this:

5 Traits of an Agile Organization

- Cross functional and self-organized teams coupled with customers
- Manage WIP and impediments
- Periodic retrospectives at all levels
- Measure the value being delivered
- Build only what is needed

4 Values

The Agile manifesto is the corner stone of Agile. With 4 simple lines, they sum up the values of Agile. These are:

- Individuals and interactions over processes and tools
- Working software over comprehensive documentation
- Customer collaboration over contract negotiation
- Responding to change over following a plan

3 Business Objectives

Agility is not an end by itself. It is rather a means to one’s end. I have found the following business objectives driving Agile transitions in organizations:

- Improve customer satisfaction
- Increase quality of the product
- Deliver on time 

2 Axis of Management

As an Agile manager, I have to focus my teams on:

- Alignment 
- Autonomy
1 Vision

This one, the customer has to work it out by himself. What is his vision behind adopting Agile? Where is he going with his Agile transition?


While this mnemonic is geared toward managers who need an executive summary of Agile, I think it can also be a great tool within the team. It could be used to recall team values, coding standards or something of importance the entire team wishes to support. 

If you have questions on the topic or want to contact me, you can email me.

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Louis-Philippe Carignan first discovered Agile while toying with test-driven development and continuous integration in 2004. He then encountered XP, Scrum and never wanted to do another traditional IT project afterwards. Louis-Philippe is a Professional Scrum Trainer (PST) who also works as an Agile coach where he helps people exceed their own expectations. Author on many Agile blogs, he has decided to write about soft skills in Agile software development, a topic he believes is often neglected but overly powerful in any team. Louis-Philippe strongly believes that teamwork is the ultimate competitive advantage because it is so powerful and so rare. While the Agile literature talks about engineering practices or the processes to put in place, seldom are books who address the importance of soft skills between teammates.

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