Evolving agile

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Without any doubt agile is the biggest evolution in software development approaches since the introduction of waterfall back in the early seventies. And yes. Agile is an evolution rather than a revolution. The best practices and techniques in agile didn’t just pop-up. Rather they emerged from years of hard-working, real-life experience in succeeding and failing […]

Without any doubt agile is the biggest evolution in software development approaches since the introduction of waterfall back in the early seventies. And yes. Agile is an evolution rather than a revolution. The best practices and techniques in agile didn’t just pop-up. Rather they emerged from years of hard-working, real-life experience in succeeding and failing in projects.

So working in short iterations, in multi-disciplinary teams, prioritizing our work items regularly, and testing and delivering early and frequently using simplified communication, as we could capture agile in a single sentence, are improvements we’ve all introduced in our software development projects over the past forty years. Agile, and all of it flavors, such as Extreme Programming, Scrum, Smart or Kanban, have merely evolved from teams trying to do a little better every day. And have succeeded in doing that.

In the second decade of this century, due to the overall success of agile approaches, the majority of organizations executing projects will move towards agile. Either quickly or slowly. And for a variety of reasons. To raise quality. To increase predictability. To execute on-time, on-budget. To minimize time-to-market. Or simply because Gartner says so.

But with the success of agile come new challenges. Agile projects require agile coaches. Whether certified as Scrum Master, Lean Champion, or Pokémon Trainer, there is a lack of sufficiently experienced agile coaches. As a result an increasing number of projects is guided by ill-experienced coaches, often leading to a dogmatic and rigor application of agile. More over large organizations will feel the need to standardize, industrialize or institutionalize their agile efforts, resulting in ill-digestible, comprehensive agile manuals.

Although adaption and creativity are fundamental to agile, these growing pains will slow down the enormous progress we are making in the field of software development approaches. Agile is meant to evolve. Always. Continuously. Improving and professionalizing our software development is not a frog-leap process, proceeding with one giant leap every fifteen years. It is an fluid, never-ending process of many, many little steps taken on a daily basis. We learn from what we do. Yesterday, today, tomorrow, next year.

This post was written as a contribution to the upcoming book “Shaping Apps Germany”, published by Capgemini, Germany.

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