The Great Agile Lie

The Great Agile Lie

Oh Agile. How I love thee. You are the buzzword of a thousand startups. Well, you and your friend Ruby on Rails and terminology like “lean” and “pivot”.

But is your startup really agile?

Agile sounds like a dream for most people. Product owners get to write less specs and change requirements on the fly, there is no real QA cycle, deployments happen continuously. It is Disneyland for everyone with lots of singing and hand holding. It is the silver bullet. It is easy to implement. The list of potential wins goes on and on.

I have spent a lot of time talking to hundreds of startups and I find a recurring theme. Not many are actually agile. I hear, “we don’t actually practice scrum or anything like that, but we are agile”. I think that a clarification should be made. Agile is a methodology that does follow a system and best practices. A proper implementation takes work, tweaking, team involvment and a real understanding of the practice.

Agile is not about taking what parts you like best and ignoring the rest. Just because you don’t want to write specs is not a real reason for adopting agile. Just because you want to throw a grenade into a development process by changing things last minute doesn’t mean that you should adopt agile. You can cause full on disruption and anarchy in your organization if you choose to adopt the best bits of agile and throwing out the rest.

So, companies, if you are thinking of adopting an agile methodology please make sure that you are committed to doing it fully. Agile is like any great relationship. You have to work at it. It isn’t easy, but if you stick with it, it can pay off generously.

Some of my favorite agile material: