Wednesday, November 28, 2007

More Agile Kool-Aid Please!

I got an interesting response to my post on "No Really, What is Agile?" today. For the complete response, see the comments on that post. It is fairly vitriolic and anonymous, but I have no problem with that because the benefit is that we get to see what is really on the poster's mind. The poster has clearly confused me as a spokesperson for "the Agile movement" which I certainly don't claim to represent. I would hope that anybody that has read a couple of my posts would realize that I'm not in the "Agile can do no wrong" camp. There is also clearly a high level of frustration apparent in the post. Hopefully, the venting was cathartic. :-)
I have read enough to know that the Agile Kool-Aid drinkers think they're immune to such concerns. Sadly, that is not the case. Instead, the Agile types keep moving the goalposts: "Oh, that's not Agile!" or "They're doing Agile wrong!"

Guess what? Eventually you'll move the goalposts so far that you'll hit the stands.

There are plenty of issues with Agile adoption. Some of them can certainly be pinned on the overzealousness of some Agile advocates, but some are due to the adopters themselves. As the Dilbert cartoon points out, adopting something without understanding it and without creating a proper ecosystem for it is destined to fail.

I am reminded of a day long ago when I decided to ignore a "trail closed" sign because 33" of powder had fallen during the night onto the trail which was rocks and grass the day before. It looked great, but there was no base, so it was just the same as riding on rocks and grass.
...where is your movement going to be when they totally bastardize it and projects fail? Well, Kent Beck and his gang started this movement with a huge failure of a project at a big company, but you always conveniently ignore that history.

Well first, it isn't my "movement" any more than my use of AJAX technologies means that I am part of the "AJAX movement". For me, Agile is neither a movement nor a philosophy, but rather a tool like any other. Agile is either a good idea or it isn't. I happen to think it is a great idea, but I agree that we have a long way to go before it is mainstream. As for ignoring history, I'm not sure what that means. Does that mean that when software development projects fail we should stop doing software development? When we fall down when learning to ski should we give up? Does it also mean that traditional development is the best way forward? If it was, there would be no such thing as Agile development because everybody would be loathe to change. Agile development has come to be precisely because of the frustration that people have with traditional development.
Just try going to Slashdot and posting your nonsense. They can be quite vicious.

I suppose my point is: don't be afraid to be self-critical about Agile. Don't make excuses.

Dear anonymous, one of the best ways to move things in a positive direction is to pull things in a positive direction, leading by example. I invite you to read more of my blog and respond to specific points instead of responding generally to Agile just because I have the word Agile in my blog.

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