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Gil Zilberfeld has been in software since childhood, starting out with Logo turtles. With more than 15 years of developing commercial software, he has vast experience in software methodology and practices. Gil is the product manager at Typemock, working as part of an agile team in an agile company, creating tools for agile developers. He promotes unit testing and other design practices, down–to–earth agile methods, and some incredibly cool tools. Gil speaks locally in Israel and internationally about unit testing, TDD, and agile practices and communication. And in his spare time he kills dragons, for fun. Gil blogs at http://www.gilzilberfeld.com on different agile topics, including processes, communication and unit testing. Gil is a DZone MVB and is not an employee of DZone and has posted 55 posts at DZone. You can read more from them at their website. View Full User Profile

Good vs. Evil

03.31.2014
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Posts about agile dying or becoming irrelevant come and go. God knows I’ve contributed to that movement.

The latest wave started with Agile Manifesto signatory Dave Thomas, with “Agile is dead, long live Agility”. The discussion later continued on Twitter and the XP mailing list under the title “Taking agile back”.

Taking it from whom?

From the evil consultants who are selling “agile” to unsuspecting business managers. Agile was a developer thing, and now it’s out there in the hands of the uninitiated.

However, if the consultants are not so evil (there’s this kind too), It’s a different story. When the word Agile became mainstream, it helped promote the ideas of better development practices.

Both sides are right. I’ve written about it multiple times – Consultants that sell the methodology du jour, and move on to the new hotness, leaving the organization to deal with the aftermath. They do exist, and the current ambassador is SAFe.

But the good consultants exist as well. They make their living by helping organizations. They do that because one VP just heard about agile, and although he heard “faster development”, it was enough to open the door.

Who is right?

Unfortunately, we don’t live in a galaxy far far away, where good and evil roles are pre-defined and there’s a clear-cut difference. Both exist, and the “agile” (much like the Force) is strong in both.

But there’s no taking “agile” back, unfortunately.

Yes, it’s not an English noun. And yes, it is used as one, inappropriately.

We can call it whatever we want, and describe it in different ways, but agile is not a word anymore.

Agile is a brand

The discussion therefore is moot. Once “Agile” has crossed the chasm, replacing it with another word that has another meaning, and pushing it as the “right way” will not work the way you think it is. In fact, what SAFe is doing is just that. If you’re selling it you’re doing a marvelous job. If you want to dissuade people from doing it, you already lost, since you’re using the brand SAFe in that sentence. And it goes back to what people hear, rather than what we want them to understand.

This is the hard part, for us, who want the agile way of old (XP?). Or rather, we want people to understand it the same way we do.

Some people will understand, but they are the minority.

If this new word is to succeeds at all, it needs to follow scrum and SAFe in what they do best: speak the business language, not developish.

If by some miracle it does succeed, we won’t be happy again, because life will repeat itself.

It’s really hard to please us, we agility folk.

It does sound weird, doesn’t it? Let’s stick with agile and try to make the best of it.

Published at DZone with permission of Gil Zilberfeld, author and DZone MVB. (source)

(Note: Opinions expressed in this article and its replies are the opinions of their respective authors and not those of DZone, Inc.)