A Manifesto for Agile Faculty

Do you have a personal or professional manifesto? Seems lofty, right? Maybe even a little pretentious? I went through a phase during my MA program in which I put my “mission statement” on every resume rather than an objective – I still cringe thinking about it now (and use it as an example of what not to do in job materials). But a mission statement isn’t a manifesto, a call to action, rally cry to shared values.

During the original Snowbird retreat in 2001 when the founders of what we now call Agile met to come to terms with the state of software development and call for change, one result was the Agile Manifesto:

Individuals and interactions over processes and tools.
Working software over comprehensive documentation.
Customer collaboration over contract negotiation.
Responding to change over following a plan.
That is, while there is value in the items on the right, we value the items on the left more.

The items on the right are typical of industrial Taylorist principles of work and what the Snowbird “organizational anarchists,” to use Jim Highsmith’s words, were rallying against. They envisioned a more humanistic work process that was flexible, adaptable, and human-centered. They were careful to say that they weren’t throwing the things on the right out, but that they wanted the things on the left to be the foundation for the future (Often people who react negatively to the Manifesto miss that last sentence. Technical writers, for example, might worry that the Manifesto seems to eliminate documentation, but the last Manifesto sentence makes it clear that is not so.).

While writing Agile Faculty, I imagined what a manifesto for Agile Faculty would look like. Here’s where I landed by the time the manuscript was due to Chicago:

Simplicity over complexity whenever possible.
Quality of work-life accomplishments over quantity of achievement.
Engaged learning over passive reception.
Responding to changing environment over maintaining status quo of academia.
Collaboration with students, colleagues, and communities over isolated productivity.
While there is value in the items on the right, we value the items on the left more.

Over the course of the summer, I’ll be digging a little more deeply into each of these statements, and look forward to discussing them with you on Twitter – find me at @RPR_Elon to share your thoughts. I’m treating this version of the Agile Faculty Manifesto as a prototype that will change and iterate with feedback and discussion.

Here’s a graphic version of the Agile Faculty Manifesto to save and share.

And here are quick links to the already published manifesto blog posts:

Engaged Learning


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