Wednesday 2 April 2008

Is Agile Gaining Wait?

No that's not a typo, just my rapier-sharp wit (ahem).  Reflecting on us as an industry I am worried that we're doing to agile what we did to SOA - productise it.  SOA has become such a blurry, distorted concept that there are now legions of consultants making - what do the kids call it these days - fat cash just explaining it to companies.

How did we get there?  Well we started off with classical distributed computing then came up with a thought process (SOA) we could lay over the top to help design distributed architectures that better reflected the business processes they supported.  That made the concept a little more accessible and suddenly a lot of organisations wanted it on the action.  Cue vendors because hey, if someone wants something we can always find a way to license it.  I used to call SOA distributed systems with some conventions (rules and patterns) but now I call it distributed systems with some conventions (sales conferences).  There's that wit again.

But we're on a tangent - back to the point:

Are we doing the same thing to agile?  Are we diluting the power of its concepts by trying to shrink wrap it into something we can market, ship and pay maintenance on?  If you look at the original agile manifesto (arguably where it all began) you'll read some pretty agreeable statements of principle, like "individuals and interactions over processes and tools" and "responding to change over following a plan" etc.  I'm all for that but what scares me is every day I see more tools and processes 'for agile' and more consultancies teaching and preaching it.  I'm getting asked questions like "what's our process for agile?" and "this book told me to always do X" more frequently.

Don't get me wrong I believe tools are important and as for all the preaching - well if something is valuable and can help us as a profession then we should spread the word.  Being an evil capitalist at heart I also don't see anything wrong with getting paid for that, I'm just saying we need to keep our eyes open for the boundary between this and when we start to reduce it's effectiveness.

I guess what I'm saying is I just don't want to overcomplicate and burden with process something whose greatest strengths are its lightweight simplicity and use of old fashioned common sense.

No comments: