Monday, May 13, 2013

Apologetic Agile Development

Having lived through numerous attempts to build software embracing the concepts behind the agile manifesto, I feel there are three large categories folks fall into when talking about agile principles.
  1. The curmudgen - these folks have been writing code since punchcards where the state of the art, OR they have been brainwashed by large consulting organizations into thinking that a large heavyweight process is the only way to succeed. Note, a subset of these folks believe that "no process" is actually OK and are quite happy to cowboy-code their way through life.
  2. The fanboy - these folks think "everything agile all the time" and will rename status meetings to "scrums". These are folks who are used to working solo on projects that they can do in their heads... or they are simply not clued into the implications of actually having a repeatable process or delivering working software.
  3. The apologetic - these folks understand the principles and the value they provide, but also understand that these principles are the important thing and know that the current state of the art of software development is still very problematic. These folks often complain or quip that they are not doing "real agile", but accept that using some of the tool and principles coupled with more traditional principles, tools, and processes has much more value in most cases
I'm squarely in the apologetic camp (my ego transposes apologetic for pragmatic BTW), and while I feel I have a good understanding of where and how agile can deliver value, I also understand that many times agile gets sold as a magic bullet that never delivers completely on it's promises. I think this is a mistake: No process, methodology, or tool is perfect, folks who complain that "agile" causes problems in their projects or doesn't solve problems that they have are completely missing the point. No process, principle, or methodology should completely dominate your software development philosophy and enlightened developers should stop apologizing.


Anonymous said...

Having read two of your articles, it's clear you have to learn it's important to know the difference between its and it's.

its - possessive
it's (contraction, substituting two words, it is)

Your articles are spot on otherwise ;)

Mike Mainguy said...

LOL... its common for me to improperly use the apostrophe and often need a reminder of it's importance :)

Jeff said...

If it makes you feel any better, there is a mom-and-pop hardware store, Read Bros., in Henry IL, which has had the same slogan on its storefront since the 1950's: "The Only Store Of It's Kind."

For decades I have fantasized climbing up there under the cover of darkness one night and removing the apostrophe.