If we could give you one Agile tool that could: establish a shared team vision, provide a focal point for team communication, highlight process bottlenecks, manage workflow, track team workload, and communicate progress, would you take it? What if we told you it was something you were already using?

Many organizations and teams claim to be Agile, and one of the most common practices they adopt is the card wall. Few actually get beneath the surface of the colorful cards on the wall to the real foundation of such a powerful tool.

The problem, we believe, is that organizations and teams embrace Agile practices and methodologies without understanding what makes them work together as a system. They mistake a particular set of practices for deep Agile principles and values. Typically the new-to-Agile-teams adopt a few of the practices but struggle because they do not understand the importance of Agile principles and values, such as: empower the team, and inspect and adapt.

Before we go further, we need to define what we mean by “Agile”. Over the past decade we’ve worked with teams using Extreme Programming (XP), Scrum, and Lean so throughout this book, we will refer to these as Agile.