The Paradox that is Agile

If you are following Agile to the letter, you are probably not following agile

So, Agile as a software development methodology has been around for a long time. Long enough for a lot of people in the software industry to know about it, follow it and to eventually abuse the spirit of it.

I’ve been seeing almost every team now-a-days trying to follow Agile in their projects. And I’ve seen people slacking away and not at all being able to follow some of it’s guidelines and I’ve seen a few of them being pretty strict with what agile has to say about software development practices.

So, the teams who actually slack away on agile methodologies and still claim to follow agile are the better ones out of two. Because I believe deep down they know that they are not agile.

The real problem is with teams who “claim” to be following agile by the book. We can call them the Agile Fanatics, but this term itself would be an oxymoron (right?).

The literal meaning of Agile is “being able to move quickly; being able to (respond to) change quickly”.

The Agile manifesto advocates to design your software development practices such that its easier for you to account for change (in requirements, timelines, resources etc.). BUT what if the software practices you have been following in accordance with the Agile manifesto aren’t making you or for that matter your project as “Agile” as you would like it to be. It’s a possibility, that, what works for a lot of other projects just isn’t the right fit for your project.

I believe, that, as much as you should be accepting of changes from the customer, you should also be accepting of the fact that the software practices you are (or have been) following might not be as effective and might need to change from time to time. And that the changes might not be completely in line with the Agile manifesto. And that’s okay, as long as it “works” to make your project Agile.

This isn’t a blog post about re-iterating the agile manifesto. It’s about re-iterating the fact that the guidelines in the agile manifesto are exactly that – “guidelines”.

So the next time you see your scrum master, manager, lead or even your colleague reading out the agile guideline(s) to you as if it were a rule and if you seriously think that it’s counter-productive for your team, please try to explain her/him that :

“If you are following agile to the letter, then you are probably not following agile”.

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