What are the 4 Fundamental Principles of Agile? Definitions, and Methodologies

Agile is a term used to describe a “light-weight” development methodology for iteratively developing products. It is based on the principles outlined in the Agile Manifesto for Software Development. 

In simple words we can say that, Agile is like building a Lego set. Instead of trying to build the whole thing at once, you break it down into smaller parts and build one piece at a time. 

This way, you can see progress faster and make changes along the way if needed. It’s all about working together as a team, communicating, and delivering small pieces of the project regularly. 

It’s like playing a game where you can change the rules as you go to make it better.

Agile is an approach that focuses on building software incrementally from the start of the project, allowing for flexibility and adaptability to changing requirements.

Agile emphasizes collaboration, frequent delivery of working software, and continuous improvement. It promotes face-to-face conversation and close collaboration between business people and developers. The primary measure of progress in Agile is working software, and it promotes sustainable development practices.

Agile is characterized by its iterative and incremental nature, allowing for feedback and adjustments throughout the development process. It encourages teams to be self-organized and motivated, giving them the environment and support they need to get the job done.

Definitions of Agile

Highsmith said that “Agility is the ability to create and respond to value, continuously, in a sustainable manner, while delivering products and services with a high degree of predictability.”

Beckwant said that  “Agile software development is an umbrella term for a collection of frameworks and practices that prioritize individuals and interactions over processes and tools, working software over comprehensive documentation, customer collaboration over contract negotiation, and responding to change over following a plan.”

“Agility is the ability to quickly respond to change without significant impact to quality or cost. Agility emphasizes iterative and incremental development, continuous feedback, and the ability to adapt to changing requirements.” – Cohn

4 Principles of Agile software Development 

The Agile Manifesto outlines four principles of Agile software development:

Individuals and interactions over processes and tools

  • This means delivering valuable software to them early and continuously. 
  • It values the human aspect of software development and encourages face-to-face interactions to grow better understanding and teamwork.

Working software over comprehensive documentation

  • This principle emphasizes the importance of delivering working software as the primary measure of progress.
  • It recognizes that software development is an iterative process and prioritizes adaptability and responsiveness to changes in requirements.
  • It prioritizes tangible results over extensive documentation, recognizing that software development is an iterative process and that frequent delivery of valuable software is crucial.

Customer collaboration over contract negotiation

  • This principle emphasizes the importance of involving customers and stakeholders throughout the development process. 
  • Agile processes are flexible and can handle changes in requirements. 
  • It encourages continuous collaboration and feedback to ensure that the software meets the needs and expectations of the customer.

Responding to change over following a plan

  • This principle recognizes that requirements and priorities can change throughout the development process. 
  • It encourages teams to be flexible and adaptable, welcoming changes and using them to their advantage. 
  • It promotes an iterative and incremental approach to development, allowing for continuous improvement and adaptation.

Agile methodologies

Some popular Agile methodologies include:


  • Scrum is one of the most widely used Agile methodologies. 
  • It emphasizes iterative development and cross-functional teams. 
  • It consists of short iterations called sprints, where the team works on a set of prioritized tasks and delivers a potentially shippable product increment at the end of each sprint.


  • Kanban is a visual Agile methodology that focuses on continuous flow and limiting work in progress. 
  • It uses a Kanban board to visualize the workflow and track the progress of tasks. 
  • Teams pull work from a backlog and aim to deliver value as quickly as possible.

Extreme Programming (XP)

  • XP is an Agile methodology that emphasizes close collaboration between developers and customers. 
  • It promotes practices such as continuous integration, test-driven development, pair programming, and frequent releases. 
  • XP aims to deliver high-quality software through constant feedback and adaptation.

Lean Software Development

  • Lean is an Agile methodology that originated from the manufacturing industry. 
  • It focuses on eliminating waste, optimizing flow, and delivering value to customers
  • Lean principles include identifying value, mapping value streams, creating flow, establishing pull, and pursuing perfection.

Feature-Driven Development (FDD)

  • FDD is an Agile methodology that focuses on feature-driven development and iterative delivery. 
  • It involves creating a feature list, planning and designing features, and then developing and delivering them in short iterations. 
  • FDD emphasizes collaboration, domain modeling, and regular progress reporting.

Dynamic Systems Development Method (DSDM)

  • DSDM is an Agile methodology that provides a framework for delivering projects on time and within budget. 
  • It emphasizes frequent delivery, continuous user involvement, and iterative development. 
  • DSDM promotes a focus on business needs, collaboration, and empowered teams.

Plan and FlexibilityRough outline, open to changesDetailed blueprint, flexibility within sprints
Teamwork and RolesSolo or collaborative, undefined rolesTeam-oriented, defined roles: Product Owner, Scrum Master, Development Team
Communication and FeedbackRegular feedback loops, informalDedicated meetings (sprint reviews, retrospectives)
Overall ApproachAdaptive mindset, focus on exploration and improvisationStructured framework for efficient team collaboration
Think of it as:Building Legos with friends, open to new ideasBuilding a complex Lego set with a team, following a plan but with room for adjustments

My Perspective 

Overall, Agile is a methodology that aims to deliver valuable software to customers in a timely and efficient manner, while also fostering collaboration, adaptability, and continuous improvement. 

And principles guide Agile teams in delivering high-quality software that meets customer needs in a collaborative and adaptable manner and there are many other variations and combinations of Agile practices that teams can adopt based on their specific needs and preferences.

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