Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Agile: revolution to evolution

20 odd years ago, Agile was a revolution in methodology and some say a revolution in business objectives, all set down in some now-well-known principles from the last '90s.

But, has there not been an evolution in the last two decades?

Mike Cohn, a spearhead in the Scrum world to be sure, says this:
Originally, agile meant valuing individuals and interactions, working software, customer collaboration, and responding to change.

Agile was about cross-functional teams working closely together to innovate new products or solutions that couldn’t have been developed any other way.

These days agile seems to be about
  • Improving productivity,
  • Reducing work in process,
  • Increasing velocity in any way possible,
  • Holding teams accountable for finishing everything they say they will, and,
  • Doing just enough that an organization can call itself agile without really being agile.
He's probably right on this.
So, what happened?

For agile to be anything other than a cottage industry, it had to marry up with serious business people who put up the money and expect effective functional results in-line with business objectives.

And, being a capitalist economy, projects have always had to line up with capitalist objectives:
  • Relentless drive to reduce cost, 
  • Produce more, and 
  • Drive the bottom line (profit margin)
The soft side of agile, the camaraderie of harmonious teams focused on product by and large, when modulated by capitalism, comes out looking like the Cohn view of evolutionary Agile.

It's not personal, it's business!

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