Agile is evil, or is it?

Agile is evil, at least according to one of my best friends. He’s not able to explain why he feels that way. All he knows is that all of the projects that he has seen and heard of that mentioned the term “agile” failed terribly.
I’ve talked about this with some colleagues and a couple of them had the same feeling. They’ve seen teams trying to go “agile” but completely missing the point. And because of that, the project went seriously wrong.
I believe it’s just a bit too easy to blame the concept for the incorrect implementation. In my point of view things like Scrum, Kanban, XP can’t be wrong. It’s the way you use these frameworks and methodologies that can be wrong. I compare it to the Force (yes I am a geek and proud of it). The Force itself is not good or evil. It’s the actions you do while using the Force that determine the alignment. If you use the Force to stop someone from falling down a building, the Force is good. If you use it to push someone of a balcony, it’s evil.
It sounds easy to start the voyage towards becoming more “agile”, but I think everyone who is walking that path can agree that it’s not easy at all. It demands some serious change in mindset from all different roles involved in the software project. It’s not just something the development team has to do, or something the management can decide on. It’s a path of change that everyone needs to be comfortable walking on. If you’re not open to continuous improvement, you don’t want to embrace change and really collaborate with the customer towards finding the best possible solution, then don’t “try to go agile”. It feels to me as if a lot of companies are trying to become more “agile” because of the hype and not the real mindset.
“Agile” to me is all about collaboration, trying to find a way for all the different roles in a project to contribute and really work together. It’s also embracing change, working together with the customer to be able to present the best possible solution for his problem. I experienced firsthand the difficulty of trying to convince a team to change their mindset. It’s not easy to try and help people make this transition, but I’m still convinced “agile” is the way to go.
Collaboration, as mentioned in the virtual revolution documentary, is the basis of the social media and web community as it exists today. Can it form the basis of software development or even the entire industry?

3 Comments

  1. The ‘problem’ with agile, is that it will show very quickly when a project goes wrong. Much faster as non-agile projects. Some people can’t handle this truth, or worse, think that agile is the reason why things go wrong…

  2. I could be your best friend! Agile methodologies are, without question, evil. The high level concepts of ‘agile’ have some merit. The implementations, however, are terrible.

    I’ve been doing iterative and incremental development for over 30 years, and I’ve seen fads come and go. This one will ultimately go as well, but it will take longer than usual because so many companies have sunk tens of millions of dollars into transforming their shops into this ‘silver-bullet’, ‘one size fits all’ approach. Most CIOs realize their mistake early on, but the short-term ramifications of doing a 180 would be more devastating to their career than sinking more money into consultants to ‘transform the culture’.

    This humorous video is a pretty accurate depiction of a CIO who has decided to go agile:

    John

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