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7 Agile Myths

· Agile Zone

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Last year I had a lightning talk at the ACE!Conference in Krakow (as you probably know, I’m a lightning talk addict;) ) and talked about seven Agile Myths. You’ll hear about these myths most of the time on management level, but some of them can be found on the development level, too. IMHO it’s important to be aware of these myths to be prepared for possible discussions.

Agile = No documentation

This is one of the most famous myths and I think we have to blame the agile manifesto for this. The line “Working software over comprehensive documentation” is often misunderstood with no documentation at all. But how could agile Frameworks like Scrum survive in highly regulated environments like the medical or financial industry if this would be right. For sure there is documentation, but we don’t waste time on documents that deliver no value to the project.

Agile = Anarchy

The biggest fear of any manager is to lose control over their agile teams, because they think self organisation is the same as anarchy. Yes, the role of management changes but they still play an important role in their company. They are needed to define clear visions and goals and the constraints of a project. Only within these “fences” the team can work self organized. They are also needed to help the team to gain their full potential. This has nothing to do with anarchy.

Agile = faster

IMHO it was a bad idea to name an iteration in Scrum a sprint. This implies that everything is real fast in agile. But at least in the beginning the complete opposite is true. Building in quality into a product takes time and quality is not discussable. You’ll be able to harvest the fruits later as you’ll have less bugs and the software is more maintainable and that’s the point where agile is bringing you up to speed.

Agile = silver bullet

Yes, this true. Just kidding ;) There is no silver bullet in software development. I repeat: There is no silver bullet in software development. Sure, the process of software development has some impact, but in the end it is all about the people in a team. I saw awesome products created by a “waterfall team” and crappy software by agile teams. In the end it is all about the right people at the right place or as written in the agile manifest: Individuals and interactions over processes and tools (this also applies to Scrum, Kanban, XP and any other process).

AGile = simple switch

Simple said: No it isn’t. The frameworks itself can be explained within 10 minutes, but what is often forgotten are the needed mindset behind and the principles that agile methods are based upon (Lean Thinking, Pull vs. Push, empiric process control, iterations and increments, self organisation…). In bigger corporations it may take years until you can talk about an agile company. You won’t believe it, but it is not enough to send your team to a two days ScrumMaster training…

Agile = Easy

How can it be easy to deliver a possible shippable product every 1 – 4 weeks? In the past you weren’t able to do it after one year. It is a lot of hard work to get there and it is for sure not an easy thing to do. And I don’t want to mention continuous deployment here…

Agile = software development

Often the agile journey starts in software development, but it should not stop here. To have an agile software development team in an non-agile environment is like planting a tree in the desert –> it won’t survive. The whole company culture has to change, everybody needs to adhere to the agile principles like lean thinking. Otherwise your agile transition will end in a blind alley and a lot of frustration.

What agile myths do you know. What are your experience with those myths? I’m looking forward to your comments!

BTW, here are the corresponding slides of the talk:

Lightning Talk from ACE! Conferences on Vimeo.

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Published at DZone with permission of Marc Löffler , DZone MVB .

Opinions expressed by DZone contributors are their own.

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