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What the hell is agile anyway?

updated over 4 years ago; latest suggestion over 4 years ago

This proposal has been withdrawn...

Everybody claims to be agile. Some of us have starting insisting we spell it with a small A.

The agile manifesto says some interesting things, preferring:

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, we value the items on the left more.

But what most people seem do think is that preferring means instead of. So we have a lot of shops that throw software out but don't can't say how they do it, what their plans are, or (shock) even who their customers are.

This is not the same as using intention revealing methods to stop you having to use comments. It's having a clear understanding of what you're delivering and how it will be delivered - architecture isn't a dirty word. Rails (for example) helps you build database backed sites but when you stray off that path you can end up with a whole heap of stuff using Riak and so on - if you haven't documented this stuff in detail, drawn some pictures somewhere and shared them. You're doing it wrong; if the people that built that piece of your fantastic product are on holiday you're screwed. This is not agile, but the opposite :)

The people who wrote the manifesto were really experienced managers, developers and designers. I think that they assumed a level of understanding in their audience that now looks naive. Plus the supposed benefits of speed and avoiding rework only happen if you engage properly.

I want to outline these ideas, maybe throw in some sarcasm about crappy corporate management, look at impedance mismatching when you have an agile team and the rest of the organisation still acts like it's 1972, aka local optimisation. Just throw some ideas out that people may not have thought about. I also want to see if I can help people understand the seemingly arbitrary stuff that comes from management. Once you have a why it stops being so irritating, and you can talk to them in a way that helps you engage.


  • 2abf5beb51d5d66211d525a72c5cb39d Paul Battley suggests over 4 years ago

    I want to outline these ideas, maybe throw in some sarcasm about crappy corporate management

    Is this talk catharsis for the speaker? What can those of us who don't work for Initech take away?

  • 350b1965b373b49c16a6ab8baea121a9 Ryan Stenhouse suggests over 4 years ago

    What do you want people to leave the room knowing? There's a lot of chat about 'agile' around the place - what's your thesis? Why would people want to go and see it?

    Sorry, lots of questions!

  • A4302173ff74b86afabce753c1181e4b Levent Ali @lebreeze suggests over 4 years ago

    It would be great to know exactly what aspects this talk will tackle. 'Agile' is so broad and 30 minutes is not a lot of time.

  • 8770042ddfa772579a22b17c86965e63 Anthony Green suggests over 4 years ago

    What's the intended takeaway from the talk?

    There are plenty of agile events where you get exposed to basic grumbling so perhaps setting some goals would help.

  • Acd62030df551952268e84c8fff26a5b James Adam suggests over 4 years ago

    Can you clarify in the proposal what you mean by "seemingly arbitrary stuff that comes from management"?