Do not let them label you “not agile”.

July 17, 2007

Have you noticed a significant increase of commercialization of “agile” model and approaches. A few quite successful ALM companies are pushing very hard to create a new market for themselves. And although they are doing a great job educating masses on what agile methodologies are and how they can help your business, they also create certain frame of reference and an “agile” trap for you.

Here is an article worth reading on this topic: Am I Agile or Not?

When trying to satisfy the label “agile” imposed on you by an external opinion or a marketing campaign, don’t you forget that the original “agile manifesto” is simply about these four key points?

  • Individuals and interactions over processes and tools
  • Working software over comprehensive documentation
  • Customer collaboration over contract negotiation
  • Responding to change over following a plan

The specifics and details of how you are going to achieve this are up to your team to decide upon.

Another interesting comment from the article mentioned above:

In an effort to get acceptance in corporate centers, as well as provide a bit of control over the system, there is an increasing standardization of what constitutes an “Agile” practice.

And even this:

VendorX, an ALM provider, recently gave the top ten reasons you might NOT be agile:

  1. The “Send/Receive” and “Save As” buttons initiate most team communications.
  2. Your whiteboards are mostly white.
  3. “Test-driven” still refers to your car.
  4. You don’t yet know what PHB stands for.
  5. You know what CPM stands for, and continue to rely upon it.
  6. You spend more time trying to manage project dependencies than remove them.
  7. Someone still believes in the “Can’t Chart.” (Oops, that’s the Gantt chart.)
  8. Developers only develop, testers only test and managers just manage.
  9. Simplicity is presumed to be simple.
  10. A change control board meets…ever.

Labeling! I believe my team can be agile with my Bugzilla and my GANTT charts as long as there is no communicational barriers for the team members, and I incrementally release relevant functional software for my customers. And I do not know what Pointy-Haired Boss (PHB) is :). We happen to be doing “Continuous Integration” without knowing that it was called so. And although our whiteboards are not white we quite often do better job with printed reports than story cards. Ask you customers whether you are agile or not, they will know better.


2 Responses to “Do not let them label you “not agile”.”

  1. Raven Says:

    Alexey – Good points! I agree with your statement that you can be agile with traditional PM tools (bug tracking, MS Project) as long as there is open communication and an agile attitude among the team.

  2. Alexey Says:

    Hi Raven,

    Thanks for your participation.

    I am not against introducing new and better tools that can support your agile processes. After all our open-source project is developing one of those. I just think it is wrong to tell teams that they are not agile because they do not do 1,2,3, … , and even worse, because they are not using a certain tool. This standardization of the agile process is kind of scary.

    Some of these new tools require quite a significant change to your current processes and tooling so I guess the vendors have to do this labeling/marketing push and hypnotize you.

    Our approach, I hope, will be attractive to those teams that are happy with their bug-tracker’s or uncomfortable with any drastic changes to their current environment. We simply try to integrate and add additional flexibility and incremental value. Like, for example, providing release/iteration planning/tracking capabilities on top of your Bugzilla/GNATS/Mantis/…


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