Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Postscript: The doom of Agile

A post script to my last blog entry (“SPA London, Tom Gilb and the doom of Agile”) generated some comments and a couple of private e-mails.

I think Mark is right when he commented: “they are 'fads', the hope is they will just become nameless best practices”. Many of the Agile practices were already best practices in places, but until they were named, publicized and, yes, hyped, few people knew of them.

Have a look at EPISODES from 1995, thats 4 years before “XP” and 6 years before “Agile”. Its documenting best practices. Or one of the earliest attempts to document Scrum, The Scrum Pattern Language in 1998.

Both of these are patterns, which means they document what is being done, not what is suggested. they are documented because people think these are good practices.

One day, the Agile “hype” will fall down and what we are left with is the practices. Thats what I was trying to say when I wrote “ If XP is dead then it died so Agile might live.” The hype around XP is less, much of XP has already become best practices - think of TDD, think of daily stand up meetings. Obsessing about XP is wrong but doing the XP things is right.

Thats why I also agree with Rob Bowley’s comment when he wrote: “XP is here to stay (as much as Agile is) because through time it has proven to be effective.”

We may dislike hype but its part of the way the world works. Object oriented programming, UML, ISO 9000 and CMM have all been hyped and left their mark. SOA is hyped today, it means a lot to some but technically its just a continuation of modularisation (first there were static libraries, then there were objects, then components and now services.) Without hype people wouldn’t get to hear of these things. That’s why Simula and many other technologies have fallen by the way.

We might argue over which Agile method is best: XP, Scrum, Kanban?
We might disagree over which practices are applicable: TDD, BDD, stand-ups?
Or how to implement these ideas in unusual environments: distributed teams?

But I don’t see anyone seriously arguing for a return to to “waterfall”.

I still hope to make it to Tom’s presentation on Wednesday but we seem to have a baby sitting clash so I might be grounded. Won’t know until the last minute unfortunately.