Is Agile Development a Myth?

18 08 2008

The answer is yes if you work for a large corporation. There is no way to release enterprise software quickly in the IT world. Everyone on the streets would like to speed, but you’re governed by speed limits enforced by the police. The same goes for software. You *could* release the software quickly but you’d have to break the rules governed by your Chief Technology Office. As much as I support XP and scrum-style methods, we must leave it to the small business world.



6 responses

19 08 2008

If Yahoo!, Intel, and Google, all large, multinational public companies. The reason large companies can not make the transition typically is the traditional hierarchies (command and control, layers of management) that are in place that are causing the roadblocks. Agile can not be done if you do not have management support.

20 08 2008
Jon Strickler

I’d love to hear your justification for such a broad statement. As the last comment points out, many larger companies are already successfully using Agile proving your statement inaccurate. I have worked with a $4B company locally that is deploying Agile for all their internal development. The only modification they have made to ‘pure’ Scrum is that they batch iterations for external releases. I think grouping iterations into a larger external release is a typical and accepted practice at many medium and large Agile implementations. Even with slower releases the benefits from fewer errors, more user satisfaction, enhanced features, self-directed teams, etc all continue to contribute value.

20 08 2008

Jon – thanks for reading. Before we engage in any discussion, I’d like to point out first and foremost that I am all for agile development, I’ve even got the manifesto up at my desk. Unfortunately large corporations must deal with security, compliance, audits and other external forces that isn’t covered by scum style management. In fact, issues such as security, compliance, and audits aren’t considered – they are inherent within the project and must be handled on the fly. I think that’s great, however that is not reality.

2 09 2008
Tom LaZelle

I agree that you can only travel as fast as the slowest car in front of you but if you can get the driver in front of you to car pool with you then you can travel much faster. The idea of Agile is to include all parties involved with project and by doing this it will hopefully decrease the amount of time it takes to deliver software. The introduction of Agile into an organization will cause chaos because it is not just process change but a fundamental change to how people think about business and the delivery of software. IMHO in order for Agile to be successful you must continuously engage all parties concerned to ensure that the process that are being used satisfy the company, customer and team.

3 09 2008
Phil Abernathy

I am sorry to say but I think this view on Agile is so 2005!! I agree that this was the state with Agile in the early 2000’s but in the last 2 years Agile has scaled and matured to the enterprise level. Scrum, XP and the other practices by themselves are not enough but large corporations not just in the hightech sector but even in the finanncial services areas around the world have adopted and adapted Agile, combined it with Lean principles and are delivering massive business value. The Agile 2008 conference held in August in Tronoto showcased all the succeses and the techniques used. Check out the site for all the examples and tips. Being an Agile coach and practitioner for the last 8 years I have seen Agile jump the fence of the developer world and infuse the organisation as a whole. Governance, compliance, enterprise architecture, leadership, information strategy and planning and portfolio management, to name a few, have all gone Agile. This has happened for one reason…Agile works and Agile delivers!

5 09 2008

Hmmm, my thoughts on this puzzling question are yes, no, maybe and I dont know! However when really scrutinising my thoughts I realise that at the tail end of it all is leadership and some basic human values. If these stars align, even for a glimmer, then the beauty of agile can reinforce and further hard wire working Agile into a large organisation. Agile practices and techniques reinforce Agile and people power (or should I say team power) and so it starts to take over. Small successes can be built on and celebrated to virally infect the nay sayers and ignorant folk who know no better. I think the question should be How can We Demystify Agile so organisations can embrace Agile. Organisations these days are constantly subjected to change, it is the only constant. Change becomes a comfort really if you think of it this way. Agile can be the change…….

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