What is the biggest weakness of Agile?

Monday, May 4, 2015
posted by daveb

Agile, as in The Agile Manifesto (http://agilemanifesto.org/) is a very elegant way to express the learnings of many software experts over many years. The Agile Manifesto is a kind of declaration by leading software experts that there is another way to think about software development other than classic waterfall based, documentation / process heavy methodologies that tend to see people only as resources. While these experts don’t attempt to put forward a single recommended methodology, they do agree on the principles of the Manifesto, and indeed they coined the term “Agile”.

The Agile Manifesto hints at what Agile is by comparing the Agile way to the traditional way – “Individuals and interactions over processes and tools” for example. If you haven’t heard of the Agile Manifesto, chances are you’ve picked up some highly distorted definition of Agile, such as “Agile means no documentation” or “Agile means Scrum” or “Agile means iterations”. The Agile Manifesto says nothing of the sort.

So to respond to the question “What’s the biggest weakness with Agile?” we have to first be clear about what we mean by Agile. Ideally, we’d use the definition from The Agile Manifesto, but unfortunately the term Agile has become very overloaded, and has been mis-applied and widely misunderstood. The real weakness with “Agile” (in the sense its commonly used today) is the very word itself! Its almost unusable due to its many interpretations, connotations and so on.

For example, if you are trying to convince your organisation that it could benefit from Agile, its probably safer to avoid the term altogether than to risk those that have a definition of Agile in mind misunderstanding you completely.



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