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I hear quite a bit about Agile development methodologies and their use in business, but I'm beginning to wonder if anyone REALLY does Agile development.

When I was CIO, we "sort-of" did agile development, that is we tried to enforce it, but because interference from on high, we typically had problems with iterations.  The CEO didn't get Agile and was constantly saying things like, "Right, but can't we just insert a little time in the process for working on stuff that Marketing comes up with during the iteration?" and "Right, but you're planning on slack time in the iteration, right?"  Plus, he always wanted to see things spelled out in detail before we did anything.  Although we usually did a pretty good job with Agile development, I'm beginning to think that successful agile is not the norm.

More examples:  Every position I've interviewed for so far in this process either "wants" to implement agile or is using a "modified" version of agile.  Both of those indicate that agile is a pipe dream.  Where I'm working now supposedly uses scrum, but there are no meetings, no interaction with business owners, no task assignments, no design, no use cases, no scrums, no structure, no nothing.

At one interview, agile was described as being totally out of control.  Basically, they couldn't use it because their timeline, features, and resources were all fixed, therefore, Agile wouldn't work (huh?).  Makes me wonder how frequently they really hit their targets.

Another interviewer, the person professed to use agile but then pushed really hard to determine what requirement documents and functional specs I would produce before I started coding, and how do I handle the turn over of the code to the testing department at the end of the development project.  Hmm--that doesn't sound like waterfall to me at all!

These aren't the only experiences I've seen.  Does anyone have an experience of where Agile has worked for a normal company with success?  How did you get around these barriers in thinking?  Does the "Agile should be adapted for your environment" clause give people the freedom to wrap SDLC in pseudo-agile and call it Agile?

Posted on Friday, January 12, 2007 2:31 PM | Back to top


Comments on this post: Is Agile really being used?

# re: Is Agile really being used?
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There's a game company called "High Moon Studios" that gave a talk on agile development at Microsoft Gamefest this last year. They use agile development and can't recommend it highly enough. It's one of the few times I've actually gotten excited about maybe using agile development.

You can look/listen to the talk if you download the session. It might help give you some insight into a company that seems to be using it and using it well.

(I know that "Let's Kill Dave" has a link to the zip of it somewhere. Just Google for it and you should find the link since I can't seem to figure out how to successfully put links in GWB comments)
Left by George on Jan 12, 2007 3:11 PM

# re: Is Agile really being used?
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My team uses a process which I would describe as agile. It has turned out to be very successful for us. Nice and lightweight and very effective. I have a blog post that gives a little insight into some of our process here: http://geekswithblogs.net/optikal/archive/2006/12/31/102381.aspx

I'm planning on making another blog post in the next few days that describes in more detail our process if your interested.

I think that Agile done right is a great thing, however, like you I see plenty of people doing agile wrong. In my mind the key to an agile process is expecting change and being able to easily deal with it.

Agile does not mean take your big waterfall process, split it into lots of smaller waterfalls and call it agile. This is what I see being done quite a bit.

Feel free to get in touch if you want to learn more.
Left by Dylan on Jan 14, 2007 9:25 PM

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