Friday, January 9, 2009

Agile and the DoDo

If you’ve read some of the stuff that I’ve written here on this blog, you know that I’m a big proponent of Agile development methodologies. You also know that I believe Agile represents a mindset as opposed to a process.

I was just reading an interesting article in Visual Studio Magazine titled, “Is Agile Rock or Disco” where the author essentially asks if Agile will be around in several years. It’s a decent article, but I think it misses a critical point; When you try and put Agile Development into a single box, you begin to lose the power of what Agile represents. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, Agile is a mindset, not a process! When you attempt to define Agile as “Scrum” or “XP” or “todays cool new flavor”, and represent Agile as one of the implementation instances, then of course you’re going to come down on the side of Agile being destined to go the way of the DoDo.

One of the statements in the article is a quote from Microsoft’s Don Smith, who works in the Patterns and Practices Group. He apparently made the comment, “Agile is hard to do without really good developers”. The author uses this statement as the basis to conclude that since not all developers are really good, Agile isn’t for everyone. He then goes on to use some other anecdotal evidence to state that since Agile requires really good developers, there’s no room for the talented yet inexperienced developers, therefore Agile will ultimately implode. It’s hard to disagree with those conclusions at face value, but in truth, I believe it all goes back to one of the main tenets of Agile, “Value People over Process”, and if you truly approach your Agile projects with this tenet in mind, you’ll find ways to be all-encompassing, instead of elitist.

I guess it just boils down to the following, “Agile” means different things to different people. You’re always going to have the moderates who try and blend, and the purists (or fanatics) who want to use the “My way or the highway” approach. Following the latter, Agile is indeed destined to go the way of the DoDo.

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