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Just when did Agile become a verb?

First of all my confessional... it has been almost two weeks since I've last blogged! Well I've been really busy over the last few weeks and this is the first chance I've had to put anything down on paper so to speak.

I've been a very big fan of agile techniques for a very long time - however I also consider myself to be a pragmatist and certainly not evangelical! I'm happy to use the bits from Agile which work and smudge the edges where required to smooth things over..... I'm sorry to all my more evangelical friends who will now be hunting me down like a dog.

One of my hats at work is that of Scrum Master... In addition to mentoring the team on all things Scrum I also like the team to be seen as example to other interested parties as to how to run a successful Scrum and challenge some of the misconceptions which are still attached to all things Agile!

The following are just a few statements I've heard over the last ten years or so:

  • Scrum and Agile are the same thing
  • Agile is just a development methodology
  • Agile is a free for all and dissolves the customer of any responsibility

OK.... I'll tackle the Scrum and Agile are the same first, Scrum is probably the most famous of the agile frameworks and does tend to be interchanged with the word Agile (In fact I am partially guilty of doing this)

However Scrum is just one of many frameworks which sits beneath the Agile umbrella - Take a look at Kanban, another famous methodology.

"Agile is just a development methodology" - No! it can be used in lots of different processes and in fact the roots of Agile lie in the car manufacturing industry - Software development has however enthusiastically adopted Agile practices.

Agile is a free for all - This statement could not be further from the truth and is one of the biggest misconceptions to deal with - in fact Agile if done correctly is perhaps one of the most disciplined and prescriptive methodologies out there!

Agile if performed to it's optimum requires complete buy in from the team - All of the practices and workings of the team are transparent and as a result open to scrutiny.

But perhaps the biggest flaw in this thinking is the role of the business owner or customer.... in more traditional approaches the process does allows for that role to be very disconnected perhaps only coming back to take a look during the UAT phase.

The Scrum approach requires a very active and engaged business owner... somebody who will be available to the team every 1 or 2 weeks. Somebody who will watch the development, make decisions perhaps weekly over what features are the most important, take away problems and come back with answers and hopefully participate in demoing the latest developments every couple of weeks to the customer.

That's doesn't sound like a free for all to me!

Christian Miles