Good agile, Bad Agile

Photo Credit: Robby Virus via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: Robby Virus via Compfight cc


“No one ever asked for two weeks of software”   Lee Brandt

This last weekend I attended Iowa Code Camp in Iowa City.  This is a great conference for software developers and people in technology.  Lee Brandt gave a talk entitled, “Good agile, Bad Agile.”  His main premise is that agile development is great way to develop software.  Lee’s definition of agile is, “doing what you do now with measurement.”  The Bad Agile, with a capital “A” is the formal process promoted by and Scrum Alliance.  Lee compared them to the Roman Catholic church guiding what we can and can’t do!

Common Missteps

1. That won’t work here!

Lee shared with us some of the common missteps that he sees in teams trying agile out.  “That won’t work here!”  This  phrase is shared in many situations from people who don’t want change.  I would almost say this is a default response many have for new ideas.  Lee said we need to answer this statement with a question, “What would have to change for it to work?”

2. I am on the QA Team.

The next issue he talked about we ran into at Dice when we tried agile development for the first time.  As we put together a multi-disciplinary team, people would refer to where they came from.  Lee shared a similar story of a teammate who was on his Scrum team, but insisted, “I am on the QA Team.”  As this is where her manager who gave her review was.  It is important for people to work together and feel part of the team to build software that brings value to the business.

3. That is not what the process says to do.

After going through Scrum Master training a few years ago, I was leading a team for  Having just enough information to plan out a Sprint or two I can definitely relate to the next point Lee made.  He hears “That is not what the process says to do”  from some of us formally trained  Scrum Masters.  His simple point is that agile development is supposed to manage risk and respond to change.  The formal steps are their for guides, if your stand up isn’t helping stop doing it!

4.  In Agile we don’t…

Many people have a common misconception that in agile development we do not create documentation or planning.  Lee referred us to the Agile Manifesto and how it clearly doesn’t say this.  It does try to get people to collaborate and discuss what they are wanting.  There is always a few misinterpretations of most anything, some will hear what they want to.

Throughput measurement

We need to realize the true value of agile is trying new things and measuring all these changes through one question.  Can I get things completed faster?  If we are co-located does the team complete work faster?  We need to abandon the process from time to time and see what happens.  Experiments and innovations come from tinkering with the process.  Bringing the business value and as quickly as possible is our number one driving factor.

What change are you making today?


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