Like many of my peers, some time ago I found a wonderful way of delivering software, turning an experience that was mostly characterised by failure into one that was mostly characterised by success. And like many of my peers I found it a revelation, to the extent that I starting applying some of its principles to other parts of my life. For example, today I am very aware of “sufficiency”, and will seek only the minimum of planning before embarking on some domestic adventure.
But I also see lots of enthusiastic Agile people demanding that its principles be adopted by businesses as a whole. They are often complaining that their organisation’s problems could be fixed if only Agile techniques would be adopted — if only people would listen to them. On the more business-facing side is Steve Denning, who says Agile is “the best kept management secret on the planet” and that “Scrum Is A Major Management Discovery”. Less business-facing are the many developers I meet who look around their organisation, see its failings, and see the solution as being stand-up meetings, index cards, and burn-down charts. These people see the success of Lonely Planet’s legal team using kanban and seek to apply the same techniques to their colleagues’ teams.
We technologists undoubtedly do have much more to offer our organisations than mere technology. But is Agile the answer to our business problems? Is it not just arrogance to think that our companies can be saved if only other people acted more like us?
Over the next few articles I want to explore this issue more.
[*] Or is that a false dichotomy provided just to make a compelling opening? The truth, of course, may lie between the two extremes.