Declaration of Interdependence

In 2004 some people met to define what agile project management should mean. In February 2005 they published a statement called the “Declaration of Interdependence” (DOI). According to David Anderson (Kanban and the DOI), one of the signatories, the intent was to:

  • define a value system by which modern 21st Century project managers should live and
  • galvanise a community around general application of agile project management

Okay, that was the goal, this is actually what the Declaration of Interdependence says:

Declaration of Interdependence

Agile and adaptive approaches for linking people, projects and value

We are a community of project leaders that are highly successful at delivering results. To achieve these results:

  • We increase return on investment by making continuous flow of value our focus.
  • We deliver reliable results by engaging customers in frequent interactions and shared ownership.
  • We expect uncertainty and manage for it through iterations, anticipation, and adaptation.
  • We unleash creativity and innovation by recognizing that individuals are the ultimate source of value, and creating an environment where they can make a difference.
  • We boost performance through group accountability for results and shared responsibility for team effectiveness.
  • We improve effectiveness and reliability through situationally specific strategies, processes and practices.

[©2005 David Anderson, Sanjiv Augustine, Christopher Avery, Alistair Cockburn, Mike Cohn, Doug DeCarlo, Donna Fitzgerald, Jim Highsmith, Ole Jepsen, Lowell Lindstrom, Todd Little, Kent McDonald, Pollyanna Pixton, Preston Smith and Robert Wysocki.]

I must say I quite like the values inherent in those words.

But that was 2004/2005 … what actually happened?

Unfortunately the DOI didn’t galvanise a agile project manager community. At least not a major community. The signatories did create a support organisation called the Agile Project Leadership Network (APLN). It might have over 800 members today but it isn’t too active; in March 2011 Jim Highsmith, another of the DOI signatories and one of the APLN founders, asked Where is everybody?. And more significantly in May the group left “projects” behind and renamed themselves the Agile Leadership Network (APLN Under Construction), which to my thinking undermines the DOI further given the strong project focus of the original statement of values.

David Anderson: Kanban and the DOI describes the group as “recognized professionals in the field of project management”. Looking at the DOI signatories and the values stated in the DOI I can’t help feeling that really the signatories wanted to be authors of a new Agile Manifesto. And I think that is the fundamental problem: the DOI signatories were trying to create a new, admittedly niche, Agile Manifesto when a perfectly good one already existed. The real Agile Manifesto may, with 10 years hindsight, be a flawed document but it did capture the essence of the change being proposed at the time and, most importantly, captured the imagination of the software community.

Alistair Cockburn, another of the signatories, points out “there is precious little about the Declaration that is unique to ‘project’ management” and proposes the alternative title “Declaration of Interdependence of modern management”.

Finally, just the name itself “Declaration of Interdependence” can’t have helped the up-take. If you google it you’ll find the term is quite overloaded and means a variety of things to different people – most of which are nothing to do with Agile or management. And I must agree with David Anderson: Kanban and the DOI that both the name, and the wording of the statement, are “rather pompous”.


Agile Manifesto

Agile Leadership Network

Agile Leadership Network: APLN Under Construction

Agile Leadership Network: Where is everybody?

Alistair Cockburn: Declaration of Interdependence

Declaration of Interdependence

David Anderson: Kanban and the DOI