What is your favourite Agile principle?


The Power of Delivering: Action Over Documentation in Agile


In the world of Agile, there’s a principle that resonates deeply with me: “working product over comprehensive documentation.” This mantra encapsulates the spirit of Agile in a way that’s both practical and inspiring.

Elvis Presley, the original agilist, said it best in his iconic song: “A Little Less Conversation, a Little More Action, Please.” If we don’t get things done, we don’t have a feedback loop. We’re just mucking around. We have to deliver. We’re burning business capital. We need something to get feedback on, so having sufficient documentation to get something out the door is critical. However, we must build something.

Why “A Little Less Conversation, A Little More Action”?

The Essence of Agile

The Agile Manifesto, created by software developers in 2001, focuses on individuals and interactions, working software, customer collaboration, and responding to change. Among these values, the emphasis on working software over comprehensive documentation stands out. Why? Because:

  • Delivering Value: A product in hand, even if imperfect, is more valuable than a perfectly documented concept that hasn’t been realized.
  • Feedback Loop: Releasing working software allows for real-world testing and feedback, which is essential for iterative improvement.
  • Resource Efficiency: Time and resources spent on excessive documentation can be redirected towards actual development and user testing.

Personal Experience

I’ve seen firsthand how this principle can transform projects. In one of my previous roles, we spent months perfecting documentation before even beginning development. By the time we started, market needs had shifted, and much of our meticulous documentation was obsolete. In contrast, a later project where we focused on rapid prototyping and iterative development led to a successful product launch within weeks, with minimal but sufficient documentation.

Implementing “A Little More Action”

Practical Steps to Embrace Action

  1. Prioritize Deliverables:
    1. Focus on creating working software that can be tested and used.
    1. Document only what is necessary to support the development process.
  2. Iterative Development:
    1. Break down projects into smaller, manageable tasks.
    1. Deliver incremental updates regularly to gather feedback and make adjustments.
  3. Effective Communication:
    1. Utilize collaborative tools and daily stand-ups to keep the team aligned.
    1. Encourage direct communication over lengthy reports.
  4. Feedback Integration:
    1. Actively seek feedback from stakeholders and users.
    1. Use feedback to refine and improve the product continuously.

Tools and Techniques

  • User Stories: Capture requirements in a simple, user-focused format.
  • Kanban Boards: Visualize work progress and prioritize tasks effectively.
  • Minimum Viable Product (MVP): Develop the most basic version of the product to gather initial feedback.

Balancing Documentation and Action

Sufficient Documentation

While the focus should be on action, documentation isn’t to be neglected. The key is to strike a balance.

  • Purposeful Documentation: Ensure that all documentation serves a clear purpose and adds value to the project.
  • Living Documents: Use tools like wikis or collaborative platforms that allow for continuous updates and easy access.

Recommendations for Effective Documentation

  1. Just Enough Documentation:
    1. Include essential information like user stories, acceptance criteria, and architectural diagrams.
    1. Avoid excessive details that don’t contribute to the immediate development needs.
  2. Use Visual Aids:
    1. Diagrams, flowcharts, and wireframes can often convey complex ideas more effectively than text alone.
  3. Collaborative Writing:
    1. Involve the whole team in the documentation process to ensure accuracy and relevance.
    1. Regularly review and update documents to reflect the current state of the project.


Embracing the principle of “working product over comprehensive documentation” can significantly enhance your Agile practice. It encourages a focus on delivering tangible results, fostering a continuous feedback loop, and utilizing resources more effectively.

Key Takeaways

  • Action Over Documentation: Prioritize delivering working software to generate real feedback and drive iterative improvement.
  • Balance is Key: Maintain necessary documentation but avoid overdoing it. Ensure all documentation serves a practical purpose.
  • Leverage Agile Tools: Utilize user stories, Kanban boards, and MVP approaches to streamline development and focus on action.

Remember Elvis’s wisdom: “A Little Less Conversation, a Little More Action, Please.” Deliver value, gather feedback, and continuously improve. That’s the true spirit of Agile.

Personal Advice

From my experience, shifting your mindset from documentation-heavy processes to action-oriented development can be challenging but immensely rewarding. Start small, iterate, and don’t be afraid to adjust your approach as you learn. The journey to Agile mastery is ongoing, but with a focus on delivering value and embracing feedback, you’ll find success.

Ready to take action? Let’s make it happen! 🚀

Connect with Advanced Product Delivery.

APD offer private, tailored training courses as well as business agility and coaching. Our public training courses are delivered by practicing Agilists: Product Owners, Scrum Masters and coaches who are expert trainers and facilitators.

Whether you are looking to become a #scrummaster or #agilecoach, we have a range of internationally certified and recognised #agiletraining courses that are perfect for you. Visit Professional Scrum Training courses for more information.

If you are looking for professional, deeply experienced and skilled #agilecoaches and #agileconsultants to help you transition from traditional #projectmanagement to #agile #productdevelopment, we’ve got the ideal team to help you make that transition a success. Visit our Agile Coaching section to find out more about us.

If you have identified Lean Agile Procurement as a great opportunity to enhance #agility within your organization, visit the Lean Agile Procurement Training course or Lean Agile Procurement coaching page.

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