Module 5 - AgileSHIFT Principles
The AgileSHIFT Principles

The principles describe what it means to be AgileSHIFT as an organization or as an individual and must all be observed across the organization. They provide a reference point if an opportunity, behavior or situation needs to be evaluated, and can help to determine goals and values if there are conflicting issues or circumstances. 

Learning Objectives 

The objectives of this course are to provide you with an understanding of the five AgileSHIFT Principles and what they mean: 

  • Change will happen, so embrace it 
  • Focus on co-creation of customer value early and often 
  • Develop an environment where everybody adds value 
  • Challenge the status quo 
  • Tailor your approach  

Intended Audience 

The target audience for the AgileSHIFT qualification is any employee of an organization that intends to adopt AgileSHIFT. This includes people who will become champions of the new working practice and employees from any part of the business who will contribute to the incremental improvements that will make up the wider change the organization requires. 


There are no specific pre-requisites to study the AgileSHIFT course or for entry to the examination.  


We welcome all feedback and suggestions - please contact us at to let us know what you think. 


The principles are a fundamental foundation of AgileSHIFT.  


They describe what it means to be AgileSHIFT as an organization and as an individual, they reflect the fundamental attitudes and behaviors that underpin successful change, they’re universal (so they apply to the whole organization), and they’re empowering – meaning they describe the ‘way things should be’ and provide everybody with the opportunity to shape the work they do. 


The five AgileSHIFT principles are: 

  1. Change will happen, so embrace it; 

  1. Focus on co-creation of customer value early and often; 

  1. Develop an environment where everybody adds value; 

  1. Challenge the status quo; and 

  1. Tailor your approach. 


They all need to be observed across the entire organization. They’re a reference point if any opportunity, behavior or situation needs to be evaluated, and can help to work out the right approach if there are conflicting issues or circumstances. 


Let’s go through them in more detail. As we do, you’ll see that they reinforce a lot of the messages you’ve already seen in earlier videos. 


  1. Change will happen so embrace it 

As we know, change can’t be a one-off, occasional activity – it’s an intrinsic part of the day-to-day work and a continual focus. Everybody should be an agent of change and deliver changes as they ‘run the organization’. 


In a VUCA world, change helps organizations survive and succeed – it’s not an option. So, individuals, teams and organizations must embrace it by continually improving business processes, adopting new technology and learning new skills – or they’ll get left behind.   


Separating ‘run the organization’ from ‘change the organization’ can create a fear of change and resistance in some areas. Everybody should share responsibility for CTO and RTO and feel empowered to make change happen. Individuals are more likely to embrace change if they understand that it’s not something outside of their control or imposed on them – it’s just another part of their job.  


Small, incremental changes will be easier to implement than large scale change delivered in short timescales. 


  1. Focus on co-creation of customer value, early and often  

The main focus of an organization is to satisfy its customers through co-creating value. Focusing on value means recognizing the needs and requirements of customers, suppliers and stakeholders, and anticipating their future needs. Unsatisfied needs create a delta which provides an opportunity for disruptors to threaten the organization.  


But focusing on creation of value is more than just survival – customer centric organizations are 60% more profitable than those that aren’t, so it’s a whole organization challenge which should be reflected in everything it does. 

With a Waterfall approach, if delivery is delayed the project might need to be re-planned and the timescales will probably be extended. This can mean a long time between identifying the requirement and final delivery – at which point the product might already be out of date or the value reduced.   


This principle reinforces the Agile approach of ‘early and frequent’ delivery of value to stakeholders, users and customers. In fact, it’s often better to deliver less-then-optimal-value early than maximum value later.  


Most delivery models, like PRINCE2, Scrum and Kanban, advocate transparency and output demonstrations at regular intervals through things like sprints or stages. These are used to illustrate value and provide customer feedback to measure if the outputs meet the initial requirement. 


  1. Develop an environment where everybody adds value 

This principle is about people. Where an individual or team is not providing optimum value, they need support to change their processes and behaviors so their contribution increases. Activities and tasks that don’t support the strategic direction of an organization – the creation of value – are probably a waste of time.  


Leaders and managers at all levels should be role models and their behaviors – together with the processes and systems – must add value. Everyone in the organization must understand the meaning of value, be appropriately trained and have the necessary support to offer optimum value. They must also understand how they contribute to the organization’s achievement of value over time. 


  1. Challenge the status quo 

Organizations can become complacent, especially if they make good money. But disruptors are continually challenging markets and deltas are created all the time. The mindset of ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ will probably mean failure. 


Challenging the status quo is about avoiding complacency and encouraging people to challenge the way things are done. Ideas should come from every part of an organization by asking questions like: 

  • Why are we doing this? 

  • How does it add value? and  

  • How can we do it better? 


Individuals need to be encouraged to share ideas with managers and try new ways of working. After all, new market entrants and disruptors are doing this all the time. Challenging the status quo means encouraging innovation and experimentation – creative thinking should be rewarded, not micromanaged in a culture where people are afraid to make mistakes. 


Clear lines of communication are essential, especially in hierarchical organizations with lots of seniority levels. Improvement ideas can be lost between the person coming up with them and the decision-maker and this can create a delta.  


  1. Tailor your approach 

There’s no ‘one size fits all’ when it comes to agile ways of working. Some organizations will need structured project management and will use PRINCE2, some will work in ways that are ‘super-responsive’ to customer needs, like Scrum, and some will need a blended approach like PRINCE2 Agile or Agile PM. Perhaps even different parts of the same organization might use different approaches to help them create early customer value. 


An organization that’s optimizing the way it works will use appropriate and different methods to suit the task, the team, the individual, the product and the customer. Individuals should be encouraged to figure out the best way of working for the activity they’re involved in and do it to the best of their ability.  


Monitoring adoption 

The AgileSHIFT principles underpin successful transformation and identify the critical characteristics of successful agile ways of working.  


Activities should be monitored to establish how effectively the principles are being applied, and make sure behaviors and actions are focused on the organization’s strategic objectives – rather than ‘changing for changes sake’. 


How can an organization or team can monitor the adoption and impact of the AgileSHIFT principles? 


How can the adoption and impact of the AgileSHIFT principles be monitored? 


Here are some ideas related to each of the principles: 

  • They can measure attitudes towards change and instances of change rejection; 

  • They can benchmark customers’ perceptions of the value being delivered by the organization, and measure against that; 

  • They can measure individuals on their achievement of outcomes and benefits – not on outputs; 

  • They can track how often individuals ask ‘why?’ and highlight where challenges have led to important shifts in strategic direction; and  

  • They can assess how effective the methods they’ve used have been during lessons learned sessions and highlight positive impacts on time or quality. 


Before you move on, why not try the AgileSHIFT Principles reflective activity to help you think about how they can be adopted into your organization. 


You’ll also find some useful case studies and examples of how the principles have been applied in the Making it Real guide. 

About the Author
Learning Paths

Tony has over 20 years’ experience in Business Development, Business Change, Consulting, and Project/Program Management working with public, private, and third sector organizations.

He has helped organizations to design and create processes and procedures to align ways of working with corporate strategy. A highly motivated and detailed solution provider, utilizing a wide range of methods and frameworks to provide structure whilst promoting creativity and innovation.

As a confident and self-motivated professional with excellent communication skills, Tony is able to bring people together and get them working as a team quickly.

Tony is an Agile and Scrum trainer with a vast knowledge spanning IT Systems, Business Change, Program and Project Management. With excellent presentation skills and a solid background, he ensures that all clients gain maximum benefit from his training. He has successfully guided those new to the industry through their initial training, helped experienced staff as they progress in their careers, and worked at the director level advising on best use and practice, as well as tailoring courses to fulfil the exact needs of clients.