Archive for post-Agile

Have you gone Beyond Agile Yet?

Posted in Agile with tags , , , , , , , on February 20, 2010 by vikramadhiman

Modern Agile. Post Modern Agile, Post Agile, Beyond Agile, Agile 2.0. Buzzwords 2.0 are flying right, left and center again. At conferences, at workshops and at twitterverse. This at a time, when people and companies, are still getting used to decentralizing and moving faster. But, do we need another movement, another thought process – at this time

Part of Agile’s [or agile’s] philosophy is “inspect and adapt”.  Agile is basically the agile manifesto and the values. I read the manifesto and the values many times over : whenever I am confused, whenever I have a question or whenever someone tells me that what I am doing or saying is not”agile”. From the clutter that surrounds discourse around Agile 2.0, the one clear voice seems to be that it depends : “You should be able to question the values too.” Being liberal at heart, I will concede that. Let us look at some values and see if you could do away with the values as such.

Our highest priority is to satisfy the customer through early and continuous delivery of valuable software. There can be situations where “continuous” is not relevant and probably “early” in not relevant either.  Where exactly? For instance, in a financial application where tax laws are changing 3 months from now – you want to make sure you work towards that rather than focusing on early delivery [before the laws change in bits and pieces or focusing on usability releases while not having time for migration issues at the end].

Welcome changing requirements, even late in development Agile processes harness change for the customer’s competitive advantage. Ok! when you will word the last part of the sentence the way you have worded – pretty much no one will argue against it. However, the same phrase also means that you want to welcome changing requirements because it “can” lead to customer’s competitive advantage. What if it does not? What if its jut a whim of a product manager? What if it delays launch by a few weeks? What if the impact of change is not fully understood?

Just two examples and the generally dismissive note that people ascribe to post modern agile starts appearing like a judgment pronounced a bit too early. But 1+1 does not prove things sometimes. Hence, let us pick from the manifesto itself. The manifesto reads:

  • Indivuduals and Interactions over processes and tools
  • Working software over comprehensive documentation
  • Customer collaboration over contract negotiation
  • Responding to change over following a plan

As much as I think and re-think, I can not fault any of these above, in any context if I take out the mean and wicked sense that is. However, there maybe a need to be street smart in some situations. Hence, you want to make sure that your contracts are negotiated well even if your customer collaboration goals are high. Similarly, comprehensive documentation might be required in an outsourcing context. Responding to change vs. following a plan depends where you are. Too early in your product development, changing things frequently could result in chaos. And if your software team is fixing support bugs all the time, processes and tools might take precedence over interaction. The context varies and hence, your values would vary too. The keyword here is “context”. You might have to look beyond Agile Manifesto/ Values sometimes. Is that a radical thought?

I guess if we renamed everything to “contextual” software development or “contextual” management. Or, maybe this sounds creepy. Let’s just say Agile [consider it as an umbrella term] is one of the option available. The key is to realize that Agile [and not agile] is “one” of the option and “not” the option.

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Post-agile or Going with the Flow

Posted in Agile with tags , on September 21, 2008 by vikramadhiman

I never thought that a discussion on prioritization would make me discuss the increasing concept of post-agile in Agile community. There are 5,170,000 results for post-agile on Google alone and that tells you how high this figures in the discussions. There is even a post-agile manifesto and a website too [www.postagilism.com]. The manifesto says:

1. If it works, it works

2. If it seems to work, it probably works

3. If it seems to work, it probably works and it might work again

4. If it seems to work, it probably works and it might work again [cogito ergo sum – although admittedly this is an assumption]

All of this looks nice, but does not really explain what it is. Most of this movement comes from assumptions like “Agile movement is being hijacked by Scrum and XP guys”, “There is a lot of hype about Agile”, “People are processizing Agile too much” and “You can’t know if you are doing Agile well enough or not”].

You can read more on some of these blogs:

http://www.agilemanagement.net/Articles/Weblog/AreyoupartofthePost-Agile.html

http://www.kohl.ca/blog/archives/000166.html

http://www.infoq.com/news/2007/05/is-post-agile-just-agile

At the heart of all that I have read about post-Agile is “Going with the Flow and Pull based Organization”. There is sometimes severe resistance to process and practices and emphasis on choosing the right team and working on their dynamics, assuming that as long as the latter is taken care of, everything will go right. I don’t disagree on this but how see the post-Agile movement is an extreme version of Agile. Hence, if software process were like a pendulum, it would swing between post-Agilists and heavy methodologists. Agile is probably somewhere in between bringing the best of both worlds and the only rest point for the pendulum. Most of what post-Agilisits say is already covered under Agile [or agile] manifesto. The heart of Agile is inspection and adaptation. If that means, doing away with process altogether and having a streamlined flow – then so be it.

P.S. In my current organization, we work in a fashion that would be akin to post-Agile, although I would want it be what would be rather Agile 🙂 Let’s see how going with the flow or pull based organization can help you achieve a different way of prioritization of tasks in the next post.