10 Agile Quotes That You Must Read If You Work With Agile

Ruth Hadari
Ruth Hadari
Agile Advocate, Engineering Ops Expert
Posted on
Sep 27, 2022
Updated on
Apr 17, 2023
Table of Content

The Agile world is ripe with books and resources from its key contributors. They are full of teachings and examples that help you grasp the principles of Agile more easily.

Exposing yourself to these books and resources will undoubtedly increase your Agile abilities no matter what role you hold:

  • For Scrum Masters, they help translate what facilitating Scrum really means
  • For Product Owners, they further explain the relationship you’ll have with stakeholders and the Scrum Team
  • For the Scrum Team themselves, it’ll open a new perspective on what it means to be a self-organizing team that prioritizes team collaboration.

However, it can be time-consuming and tedious to find these resources and explore all of their details. Luckily, I have gone through the best Agile books and resources to find the collection of Agile quotes that are quintessential for anyone working in Agile to know. 

Check out these 10 Agile Quotes that’ll expand your knowledge and understanding of Agile:

“Multitasking Makes You Stupid. Doing more than one thing at a time makes you slower and worse at both tasks. Don’t do it. If you think this doesn’t apply to you, you’re wrong - it does.” ― Jeff Sutherland, Scrum: The Art of Doing Twice the Work in Half the Time

This quote by Jeff Sutherland highlights the importance of focus when working with Agile. Focusing on singular tasks yields a higher value return for any team - biting off more than you can chew is a dangerous trap to fall into.

“Blame Is Stupid. Don’t look for bad people; look for bad systems—ones that incentivize bad behavior and reward poor performance.” ― Jeff Sutherland, Scrum: A revolutionary approach to building teams, beating deadlines and boosting productivity

Another Jeff Sutherland quote however, this one is a lesson for learning. When a mistake has been made it’s crucial that you avoid the surface level answer of blaming the person at fault. Instead you should dive deeper, using techniques such as root cause analysis to find the root cause of the problem, from where you can devise a solution and progress as a team.

“We practice mastering ourselves in the moment so that we can better open ourselves to being a servant leader and to harness our emotions and choose what to do with our reactions.” ― Lyssa Adkins, Coaching Agile Teams: A Companion for ScrumMasters, Agile Coaches, and Project Managers in Transition

This Agile quote from Lyssa Adkins reinforces the concept of servant leadership for Scrum Masters. It’s important for the Scrum Master to remember their purpose; to help support the Scrum Team work with Scrum.This quote explains that a Scrum Master must practice their problem solving and conflict resolution skills so that solutions can be given objectively and directly result in the team improving.

“A good Scrum Master will hold team members to account if needed. A great Scrum Master will hold the team to account for not holding their teammates to account.” - Geoff Watts

This Agile quote from Geoff Watts illustrates the need for a Scrum Team to be self-sufficient and self-managing. The Scrum Team should be autonomous with very little oversight; therefore, it’s up to the team to hold themselves accountable. The point Watts makes here is that the difference between a good and great Scrum Master, is that a great Scrum Master teaches the team to look after itself.

“No plan survives contact with the enemy." - Field Marshal Helmuth Graf von Moltke” ― Mike Cohn, Agile Estimating and Planning

Mike Cohn gives us this quote to describe the reality of producing products in the real-world. In reality, the plan we had often changes beit unplanned work during production, customer needs changing, greater economic landscape changes etc. We must always remember that nothing will ever go perfectly, and we will need to adapt and change our plan if that’s what’s necessary to reach the desired destination.

“Scrum makes visible the dysfunctions and waste that prevent organizations from reaching their true potential.” ― Kenneth Rubin, Essential Scrum: A Practical Guide to the Most Popular Agile Process

This Agile quote comes from Kenneth Rubin, and serves as a reminder for why we use Agile. Agile frameworks are beneficial because they utilize cross-functional teams and demand little oversight. This quote is a reminder that Agile can produce more value and prevent ‘waste’ compared to other working methods.

“Make people better at something they want to be better at” ― Kathy Sierra

This quote by Kathy Sierra is an instruction to Scrum Teams as to what they should focus on when creating solutions. Sierra explains that if you support your customer by making them better at what they want to do - you will undoubtedly find success. 

“It does not matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop.” ― Confucius

Albeit not from an ‘Agile source’ the lessons in this quote ring ever true for Agile Teams. As long as you are working towards your end goal, and producing value you are making headway. You don’t need to deliver features in every Sprint, or feel pressured to take on more than you can do to please stakeholders. Focusing only on producing value every Sprint will yield positive results.

“Scrum is like your mother-in-law, it points out ALL your faults.” ― Ken Schwaber

This Agile quote from Ken Schwaber is a harsh but true reality of Scrum. It will expose your team's weak points and show you where the holes and gaps are. What’s important however, is to embrace the things it highlights about your team because these learnings are what will improve the teams processes and consequently produce better results.

 “Big egos have little ears.” ― Robert Schuller

Rober Schuller’s quote is a satirical way to highlight the common issue with people who have a ‘big ego.’ More often than not, someone who thinks too highly of themself finds it very difficult listening and accepting the opinion of others. However, in Scrum listening to everyone is crucial, especially in the Sprint Retrospectives. Everyone must voice their thoughts and concerns whilst having them heard by everyone in the team otherwise the team will break down. This is a reminder that big egos will not work on Agile Teams, and if you find that you have some you need to act fast.

About the author

Ruth Hadari
Agile Advocate, Engineering Ops Expert

Highly experienced in leading multi-organizational teams, groups, in-shore as well as off-shore. The go-to person who is able to simplify the complex. An agile advocate, experienced in all common methodologies. Responsible for the entire software development lifecycle process from development, QA, DevOps, Automation to delivery including overall planning, direction, coordination, execution, implementation, control and completion. Drives execution, and communicates on status, risks, metrics, risk-mitigation and processes across R&D.

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