The missing principle in agile software development

The biggest missing feature in the manifesto for agile software development and the principles behind it is anyone other than the makers and their customer. We get autonomous, self-organising delivery teams but without the sense of responsibility to a broader society one would expect from autonomous professional agents.

Therefore it’s no surprise to find developers working to turn their colleagues into a below-minimum-wage precariat; to rig elections at scale; or to implement family separation policies or travel bans on religious minorities. A principled agile software developer only needs to ask “how can I deliver this, early and continuously, to the customer?” and “how can we adjust our behaviour to become more effective at this?”: they do not need to ask “is this a good idea?” or “should this be delivered at all?”

Principle Zero ought to read something like this.

We build software that transforms the workplace, leisure, interpersonal interaction, and society at large: we do so in consultation with as broad a representation of those interests as possible and ensure that our software is beneficial to those whose lives are being transformed. Within that context, we follow these principles:

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I make it faster and easier for you to create high-quality code.
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