Agile at ten years….

Ok, I know we were going to talk about the four values of extreme programming, and we will.  I had an interesting interaction recently that I wanted to explore first though.  Alistair Cockburn is sponsoring a ten year retrospective for the thought leaders in the agile development community, and someone who will be attending has asked for some thoughts to consider while he is on his way there.  Now my colleague and friend, Mike DePaoli has posted his response in his blog.  It is an excellent analysis, and I think everyone ought to go read it.  Go ahead, it’s right here. I’ll wait here.

See?  I told you you’d like it.

Rather than repeat a lot of what Mike has so well articulated, I’ll add a couple of additional points.  I feel that agile is about to reach an identity crisis.  Agile development started out as a way to improve the connection between the implementers of software and their constituency, or customers.  Over the past few years, more and more of agile thought has been focusing on the project management aspect of an organization, and leaving the technical aspects as “implementation details”.  While it is good that the PMOs are embracing agility, they are also rebuilding the barrier that was originally knocked down.

I believe this is why Kanban is becoming so popular.  The folks who were involved early on in the agile software development world are getting disillusioned that these great new ways of delivering software without all the ceremony are being replaced by a different set of ceremonies.  Cue Roger Daltrey: “Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.”  I don’t know if I’m on board that Kanban solves any new problem, other than to give some of us old farts a chance to try again.  I personally feel that those of us who really are concerned should be taking this opportunity at ten years to take a good look at what is going on, and as Uncle Bob says, restore balance to the Force.  Lets remember why we got on this ride in the first place, which was to develop great software, not great project plans.

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