Agile Fad?

At a recent conference, one speaker stated that the days of the agile movement are just about over. He said that the software industry has new fads every ten years, and agile was over ten years old.

The Agile Manifesto was written to express shared values of people who saw a new way of developing software. We wrote them as “X over Y” to indicate that our values were “X”, but that “Y” still existed and in some cases could be useful.

Kent Beck was much more explicit with the Extreme Programming values, which are Simplicity, Communication, Feedback, Respect, and Courage. I stated the Scrum values as Commitment, Courage, Respect, Openness, and Focus.

Values are not fads. You have them and cherish them, or you don’t. I perceive that many in our industry will continue to build better and better software based on these values.

17 thoughts on “Agile Fad?

  1. Personally I agree and support your sentiment Ken.

    This “At a recent conference, one speaker stated that the days of the agile movement are just about over.” however is vague and looks like you were fishing for an excuse for your post. I haven’t heard this expressed outside of Agile ‘champions’ using it to argue for Agile.

    Do we risk undermining our arguments by crying wolf?

      • I agree with the article concerning Agile as a methodology cannot deliver agile thinking. We have been trying to become more agile and it’s really more than following practices.

        On the otherhand, I think it’s not “priorization” that’s needed. Even in our daily lives, we don’t always just do what most “important” to achieve but order our tasks on other factors that we know would get all the necessary tasks get in time. If I have to wait few hour wait while doing a task, I usually insert another task that I can do within that hour instead of just waiting.
        I think agile is about having a project manager “prioritize” tasks but letting the development team actually “order” tasks based on what will best work for them. Of course, it’s necessary to build an environment where a project manager can “trust” development team to do what’s actually best for the project and for development team to actually fulfill on that trust. As such, agile is more than following some practices – it’s about getting all members to want to do what’s actually best for the project.

  2. TPS isn’t “over” so I’m hoping agile isn’t “over” too.
    I will be very sad if agile is really “over” because it’s finally beginning to pick up in Japan.
    We’re having a person from Toyota speak with us every week to further our company agile initiative.

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  4. Ken,

    I agree completely. Fads come and go, although there is generally a lot of enthusiasm for whatever the fad is for a brief period of time. Making fundamental, deep and meaningful changes to our approach to work is definitely not a fad. Agile, with its adaptive and responsive nature leveraging autonomous teams can make companies very competitive; the companies that fail to adopt agile values and principles might very well be what disappear…

  5. I have seen this before, but usually this kind of speech comes from someone who tries to sell something.
    Also, making such a powerful statement, without mentioning what this “fad” will be replaced with denotes nothing more than a need for attention.
    What if that person just wanted to have some attention ?
    If one truly believed in something, such statements should mean nothing. Only time and practice can tell us if agile is a fad or not, and this is far from over.

  6. How Scrum dies: Some fortune 500 sales executive not to be outdone by IT will take a 400 person sales department spread across 3 continents, divide them into 6 scrum teams, deploy 147 scrum boards in the form of $70k 80 inch touch displays running 5 million dollars worth of software, and hold 3 stand ups per day. 9 months and 247 sprints later their sales are down and the WSJ writes an expose on the evils of scrum.

    More seriously, Scrum does face some risk of being dismissed as a business fad. Scrum practiced in its entirety under the right conditions works amazingly well and there are CIOs out there shouting its praises.

    Attention like this of course leads others to want to capitalize on Scrum —- BUT… The “but” of course leads to disappointing results and in Scrum takes the fall.

    Many business fads actually were based on decent ideas which used properly and within context can provide improvements. The trouble is that the world only remembers the catchy steps, and forgets the rest of the framework or context. Thus the late Stephan Coveys 7 habits of highly effective people gets distilled to “win win” and nobody remembers the context nor the other 6 less catchy habits.

    The future of Scrum actually depends the people being properly educated, sharing what they’ve learned, and using it effectively in its entirety. Concepts such as Stand-up, Sprint, and Retrospective risk becoming buzz words if separated from the framework and used in appropriately. Once distilled to meaningless buzzwords any great idea risks becoming history.

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  8. Whilst I think Karl Marx had it wrong about history following a dialectical movement, I think things like fashion, culture and even software development do proceed dialectically. So I’m referring to that THESIS – ANTITHESIS – SYNTHESIS thang, ‘kay! So we have the old slow waterfall approach (THESIS) which was crying out for it’s (at least apparent) ANTITHESIS (Agile). So far so good, except that just about all parties begin to chafe at the extremity of it. Enter the SYNTHESIS. People look for what is good in Agile and what might now seem potentially “corrective of Agile” in the old approach. Add a decent helping of genuinely new perceptions to leaven the bread and voila! Something palatable! Well I can hope anyway!

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  11. Agile Software Development was a continuation of RAD – rapid Application Development. Agile vs Waterfall was a comparison too often made in the early days . In reality there never was any “Waterfall” Development process in Software. Waterfall was probably applicable at the specifications / requirements level in the early days , but the software was developed always in a granular fashion and minor adjustments were always made at the specification Level also. Agile is also more often a management term – managing the software Development and mixed with more recent buzzwords like SCRUM /KANBAN . I never understood in what way the 15 minute stand-up Meetings had anything to do with the real bottelencks of software Development. In the best case these fads tackle 80% of the issues and leave the rest 20% to good old methods. The problem here is that in any software project 80% of the whole thing takes only 20% of the time and the rest 20% uses 80% of the time. This is especially true for troubleshooting and real bottelenck problems.

    A real test should be made wth a small project of say 2 months With 5 People parallel . One the old way and the other the agile way. The two groups should not communicate and should not be aware of what the other group is doing. This is the best way to separate the medicine from the placebo effect!

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