May 24, 2010

On an Agile Wing and a Prayer

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I'm writing this on the last leg, the return home, from my first Agile In Action Road Show. I toured Toronto, King of Prussia (near Philadelphia), and Chicago. In each, I delivered a 30-minute spiel “Keeping SCM Flexible in an Agile Workflow”.

Agile road show
Taken on an Agile Road Show flight.

The Agile in Action Road Show events are a mix of Agile education, promotion, and reverse education (where the presenter learns from the attendees). Perforce has participated in several, and we'll be doing more I'm sure. Maybe one closer to me in New England next time?

I'm excited about the tremendous interest in big-A Agile, and also happy to see how Agile is evolving. As a long-time "tools guy," I always believed that development process and tools were essential to putting engineers at the top of their game. Agile rightly avoids an over-emphasis on tools and process, but much has changed since the Agile Manifesto in 2001.

See, I've always been a "process and tools" guy, albeit with a strong lean and practical bent toward little-a agile common sense. "Just enough process" was how I called it. Before a particular set of agile ideas became Agile, there were many discussions on "development methodologies" that promoted process over tools. I felt some of them weren't of great value to me as a developer, since they were tool-agnostic to a fault. Perhaps a bit unfairly, back in the '90s I labeled some of these evangelists "Fuzzy Process Useless People." The reality is, if you're going to process software development, you're going to follow a process and you're going to use tools. Agile is now a proven family of methodologies. It remains fuzzy to a healthy degree, allowing for new innovation and interpretations. It avoids being useless because the power of Agile concepts have guided evolution of tools and processes, moving both in the right direction.