The Agile Tribe

Agile, What's in a Name?

on August 16, 2011

Author: Peter Koevari

In my years of software testing, I have seen the result of what can happen when  an unfair reputation is built on something, and in this case, Agile (cue star wars death march music).

Why is it that so many people in the IT industry want to drop their pens in a meeting, leap off their chairs and run screaming when they hear the name? Has Agile become “That which shall not be named?”

Luckily, I don’t just ask these questions… I do have a theory to share with you all, really.

It has become painfully apparent to me and many colleagues, that Agile has been used when projects want to run with little to no documentation, a free for all attitude, and have pretty much no Agile training whatsoever.

These projects then call themselves “Agile” or what I would call “The Empire” and inflict pain, fear, and doubt in the universe… oh sorry, project team.

Star wars references aside, this is a scary trend which paints Agile in a horrible light. I am going to tell you what those individuals and failed projects don’t want you to hear.

Audit) Why did your project Fail?

PM) Because it was Agile.

Real Story) Because it was poorly managed and we called it Agile to cover our weaknesses.

Agile becomes the excuse, it becomes an enabler for poorly managed projects to fly a banner that escapes them of the real responsibility that the project has failed and was mis-managed or badly run.

This may work to save the behind of the uneducated, but it has many horrible side effects.

1) People start thinking that a project which is Agile will always spell F.A.I.L.U.R.E.

2) People do not understand what true Agile is, and how great it can be for any project.

3) People begin to spread their FUD (Fear, uncertainty, doubt) of Agile to all of their colleagues.

Chaos ensues. Planets get blown up and… oh sorry, there I go with Star Wars again.

Okay, probably not as dramatic as the movies… but equally as damaging.

Luckily for us, there are answers… there is the truth, and we *can* handle the truth (A few good men reference for those of you who haven’t see the film)

1) Agile does not mean failure

2) Agile does not mean no documentation.

3) Agile is very structured

4) Agile, tailored to meet the needs to any project, does work.

So, how does someone fix these problems?

I would love to re-badge Agile to a new name, but that’s obviously not going to happen… sadly.

I can imagine that if we called Agile something new, “The Rebellion”, people would flock to it, learn it, and not be so afraid of it in general. Then they would realise that it really does work.

There is no silver bullet here, but I entice you to ask questions in the next meeting that people roll their eyes or run in terror at the mention of the word Agile.

Ask them if they have had any training in Agile (Agile Academy can assist them with that). Ask them if they have had any experience with Agile.

What’s also important is to keep ourselves as professionals at the forefront of knowledge by following blogs related to Agile and our roles and sharing what we have learned.

Wouldn’t you know it… collaboration and sharing are just some of the principles of Agile.


3 responses to “Agile, What's in a Name?

  1. Susan Akers says:

    Nice one Peter. Can’t agree more. Don’t abusing and start using Agile correctly!

  2. Seema A says:

    That’s true…have seen it happening when a lack of planning, accountability, tracking, dcoumentation, structured approach, is conveneintly covered under the term ‘AGILE METHODOLOGY’..

  3. Deepak Dhananjaya says:

    Very truly said about people Misunderstanding the concept of agile and managing it the “non agile ” way and reasoning agile to be failure.
    If we understand the process, roles and responsibility that agile defines is so easy and helps us manage the project more structured way.
    the only point i would like to clarify is thaet “agile does not mean no documentation” mean it never says about not having documentation for the project, but only appropriate documentation can be followed

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