There is a thirteenth principle in the Manifesto for Agile software development that is often forgotten and poorly practiced. And it is the core of what the manifesto is about, in order to the manifesto to be of some use. And it is right there in front of you...
A manifesto is an ideology. Something that helps improve to an ideal state. If it doesn't serve that purpose, then it is not worth the paper it is written on. And in this case the Manifesto for Agile software development is supported by 12 distinct principles.
Principles are goals. Things that one works towards. Constantly and diligently. How one instantiates the principles might vary based on the context of the situation, but these 12 goals are not optional. Again, if these goals are not inherited and used, it goes back to the fact that much improvement may not be achieved from your use of the manifesto and your software development effort might even be a retrograde step from the previous way of working.
Now back to the 13th principle...
Uncover better ways of developing software by doing it and helping others do it.
This principle constitutes three elements:
- That you constantly uncover better ways of developing software
- "By doing it" - you cant uncover better ways by just talking about, theorizing it, but one need to be deep practitioners and in practice comes the better way of doing it; and,
- once you are a deep practitioner, you share what you practice and learn to others so that that you help build the capabilities of others around you, within and outside the organization.
If you are not uncovering better ways for software development, not really doing by the deep practices of the craft and not sharing what you do and learn, then one might say you are "Not Agile" with confidence. Wouldn't you agree?
Are these optional? I would say a bold "NO" because this is the core of what this manifesto stands for - software development "being agile", and if its core practices are not goals for the work that you are doing, then what are you really doing? Is it really the art of software development, I wonder? Most probably not.