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Monday, January 08, 2018

"That's Not Agile"

It grates on my ears every time someone says "That's not agile," even when they might be justified in saying so. It's said far too often and without much thought, often reflecting more of the bias and personal preferences of the person complaining than it does any violation of the spirit of Agile.

What is Agile? It boils down to the Manifesto For Agile Software Development, as worked out in 2001:

  • Individuals and Interactions over processes and tools
  • Working Software over comprehensive documentation
  • Customer Collaboration over contract negotiation
  • Responding to Change over following a plan
That is, while there is value in the items on the right, they value the items on the left more.

That's both simple and sufficiently vague to allow some room for interpretation. Sadly, I hear people calling any documentation at all, any handing down of deadlines, or any semblance of a project plan 'unAgile.' This is the sort of thing that gives Agile in general a bad reputation in certain circles, making life harder for the rest of us who aren't self-proclaimed guardians of Agile purity.

There are approaches to being Agile that are more specific, like Scrum and Kanban, but Agile itself is happily free of major constraints. It's about tendencies rather than following a code of law. Now, I have a bone to pick with people who are Scrum purists as well, but that's a topic for another day.