Monday, 5 April 2010

Let's Ban Agile

Bet that made you look.

Whenever I'm dealing with the wider business and I come across confusion about (or resistance to) agile practices I typically find that, once the few genuine issues are swept up, much of what's left comes down to semantics. And fair enough too - the extensive metadata that has built up around engineering processes is intimidating.

If we put all that aside and just talk about the basic practicalities of doing projects, you are pretty much just looking at an inventory of requirements that must be turned into an inventory of working product. To do that, distinct individuals need to execute specific tasks within certain time constraints (or, more colloquially, who does what by when). From there, we build up some rules to make sure everyone can cooperate effectively around those basics, and it is these rules we'd tend to call our development process/project methodology.

It isn't any harder than that. But, for some reason, we like to make it sound difficult through a plethora of technical terminology.

Instead of iterations, why don't we just talk about tackling big projects a bit at a time? [In fact, I'm yet to discover a better way of solving huge problems than breaking them down into a collection of smaller ones] Instead of backlogs, let's just have a prioritised list of requirements. Instead of standups, let's just have regular and frequent meetings to keep everyone on the same page. Instead of sprint planning sessions why don't we all get together to iron out a detailed plan before we commit to our next chunk of work?

I guess what I really want to ban is unnecessary jargon - at least when dealing with the non-technical contingent of the business. I think we should use common everyday language to describe what are, ultimately, practical and common sense activities.

Just because we're solving complex and difficult problems doesn't mean we need to use complex and difficult processes - in fact, one could make a case for quite the opposite.

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