Saturday, 9 April 2011

Agile

So this week, like a viral you tube clip, this old blog post from Steve Yegge did the rounds in my team.


Firstly, let me say; Steve really has a voice. His dry sense of humour has you lapping up whatever idea he's trying to sell you on.

This means you have to be careful though. You really need to strip out the amusing anecdotes and witty analogies and get to the core of what he's saying before you can decide whether you really agree with what he says. I read the entry the first time, and it had me really swept up in the flow of his tirade, and I genuinely started questioning whether Agile was a faddy new methodology concocted only for a few guys to make some money from. The comments do even more damage, written mostly as they are in a tone of religious fervour and anger.

I agree with Steve that there is bad Agile and good Agile, but I don't think that they are as he describes them. I also don't think that at the time of writing, he was fit to suggest that anyone who worked with a deadline in mind was 'doing it wrong'. Agile is a lean process, it's about stripping out anything in the process that doesn't add real value, and putting things in place that do.

Finally, Steve suggests that due to the difficulty in quantifiable evidence that Agile makes things better, that it is more akin to a Religion - surviving on the faith of it's practitioners. I would concede him this point - almost. Science, at it's birth, was the idea of believing only what one could perceive with one's own senses. I can see and hear and smell the improvement in my team and my working life since we started to believe the principles of Agile, even if I cant directly measure the difference. It was this belief, rather than the adoption of the practices of Agile, that brought with it the benefits - and it came some time after we started using sticky notes.

3 comments:

  1. Agile is about the principles and the manifesto, unfortunately you cannot measure principles or a manifesto. Therefore, it's impossible to measure success. I think some people see Agile as a silver bullet and just works. My experience is that it needs work - you constantly have to learn & adapt.

    I think the following questions are probably all that need to be asked about Agile:
    1, Are we delivering something of value every week?
    2, Are we striving to continuously improve?

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  2. I agree David; Agile as a concept is too ephemeral to measure. It's rather the speed and quality of delivery that we should quantify in order to judge Agile. If we can measure the effect, we know more about the cause.

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