In our experience, to be successful with methods you need to be agile, light and lean in everything you do while working with methods. This means, for example, that how you build your method, adapt it as you learn more and use it while developing real software all need to be agile, lean and light. Even if the method you work with is not agile, for instance it is based on a waterfall approach, you need to be agile in how you improve it over time.
To some extent inspired by the principles behind the agile manifesto, (see http://agilemanifesto.org/principles.html), we have come up with 9 principles we believe are useful in working with methods:
(1) Active practitioner engagement is a must. Everyone in the team is important and should make valuable contributions to its way of working.
(2) The best method to start from is the one the team already has. Don’t be revolutionary, be evolutionary – focus on delivery and your customer while improving the way you work.
(3) Empower the team to change the method to fit their experience and the project context. The most appropriate method emerges from the team itself.
(4) Replace one practice at a time and make sure it works before moving on to the next. When you change, you experiment. Make sure your experiments have value, and that you understand the cause and effect.
(5) Continually inspect and adapt your practices to address the challenges facing the team.
(6) Make methods as simple as possible, but not simpler. Focusing on the essentials, the things that if not done correctly threaten the success of the project.
(7) Build trust with your customer, deliver on your promises, and be consistent.
(8) Better, faster, cheaper, and happier (teams as well as customers) are the primary measure of success.
(9) Promote continuous and sustainable improvement.
We are sure these principles can be improved, maybe even replaced with better ones. Please, contribute by suggesting changes. At some point in time we want to be able to publish something stable for many years to come.
— Ivar Jacobson, Paul McMahon, Ed Seymour, Ian Spence