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Agile Principle 6

The sixth principle of the Agile Manifesto states, "The most efficient and effective method of conveying information to and within a team is face-to-face conversation."

In other words... striving for the most direct communication possible.

This principle reflects the idea that communication is vital to the success of an agile project. Through the power of face-to-face conversation, agile teams can ensure that everyone on the team is on the same page and information is conveyed as accurately and efficiently as possible.

Key to this principle is creating an environment that fosters open and ongoing communication. This means encouraging team members to communicate in person rather than relying on email, chat, or other forms of none visual communication. By doing so, the team can more easily identify and resolve issues and make decisions more quickly and effectively.

About 70% of communication is non-verbal, so only face-to-face interactions utilise the entire bandwidth, ensuring that one can immediately verify whether what was communicated has been understood.

As a result, many companies assume agile will not work if they have distributed teams, but this principle applies regardless. Teams need to be aware of the efficiency in communication and try everything possible to speak directly with each other. When there is a necessity for telecommunications infrastructure, one should ensure the highest possible bandwidth is utilised (using video and audio). Establishing and maintaining personal connections is essential.

This principle is often misunderstood — "if we now communicate face-to-face, we no longer need to write anything down - therefore, working in an agile way means no more documentation!!". People tend to confuse documentation with communication. If something is documented, it does not mean it has been communicated. Problems arise when organisations use documentation as a means to share and communicate information. This principle tells us that a much more effective way to communicate is face-to-face. 

However, if something is (only) verbally communicated, it is not protected from being lost or forgotten. Therefore, documentation is still needed, but the question becomes; what kind and how much to document. A general guideline is; first communicate and then only document the critical pieces of information which should be remembered.

One benefit of this principle is that it promotes collaboration and teamwork. By communicating face-to-face, team members can build stronger relationships with each other and can develop a greater sense of camaraderie and shared ownership of the project. This can lead to a more positive and productive work environment and help ensure everyone on the team is working toward the same goal.

Of course, agile teams must be willing to invest the time and resources necessary to facilitate in-person communication and must be able to communicate effectively with each other to ensure that this principle is realised.

One way teams implement this principle is the concept of the "daily stand-up". These meetings are typically held in person and involve a quick update from each team member on their progress, any issues they face, and their plans for the day ahead. The team can identify and resolve problems quickly and ensure everyone is on the same page.

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