What Agile is not

Posted on December 28th, 2009 in Agile by siddharta || 4 Comments

A lot of people think agile is something that it is not. So I thought I’d list three things that agile is not.

  1. Agile is not a way to make development less diciplined: In fact, doing agile well requires more discipline than normal. Apart from cranking out code, you may have to do unit tests, refactoring, continuous integration, constant prioritization, one-piece flow. All these take discipline to do. If you think that you want to shift to agile because it’s less work, then you may want to rethink.
  2. Agile does not mean you work without direction: If you thought that Agile means you can get started immediately, then think again. Sure, you don’t need to know the complete requirements before starting out. But you should at least be reasonably clear on what you hope to accomplish in the next sprint, even if it just means spiking out different possibilities. Some agile teams spend many sprints going here and there without any idea of what they are trying to do. Sometimes it is better to sit still than dash around aimlessly.
  3. Agile does not mean there are no managers or leaders: Yes, Agile processes emphasize empowered, self-organizing teams. But that does not mean there are no managers or leaders. Every good team has good managers, who ensure that everything proceeds smoothly. Every good team has a good leader who can set a vision for the team. Don’t micromanage your team, but don’t leave them in the lurch either.

Got any more? Add it to the comments below.

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4 Responses to “What Agile is not”

  1. Vinay Says:

    Not a silver bullet to all problems. A lot of teams and companies try to adopt Agile in the hope that it will eliminate all of their current problems without willing to dig deep and understand the reasons for their As-Is situation.

  2. siddharta Says:

    Yep, thats a big one.

  3. Renato Borges Says:

    I’m starting in this area, this is very enlightening post.

  4. Urs Enzler Says:

    Agile is not simply holding a bunch of meetings (planning, daily stand-ups, retrospective, review) and following some practices (continuous integration, unit testing, …).
    The important part is the mind-set that has to change compared to a more traditional process: do whatever maximizes return-on-investment; in every area of work (see agile manifesto and principles).


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