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Hacking Agile: How Agile is Agile Enough?

Is agile choking on its own popularity, too bloated with misinformation to still be effective? Of course not, agile will always persist. But agile is not a silver bullet either, and Jinesh Parekh writes with what he perceives as some hacks for getting agile benefits without executing full-blown agile practices.

Peeled to the Essentials

When a deadline is set in stone, Parekh especially thinks there are better strategies than using agile wholesale. He notes that, since strategic decision-making does not occur until the end of a sprint, it is possible in this way to procrastinate on true decision-making and stretch the launch date. To ‘hack’ this possibility, you should consider reducing the number of cycles or lengths of cycles, and you should also ensure that the work scheduled for a cycle gets done in that cycle.

Another problem is that estimation generally dictates how much work to schedule in a cycle. A too conservative estimate might leave a team with an amount of work that could have been done in less than a cycle. Parekh says to instill a sense of responsibility in your team to the client in order to get more honest and efficient estimates.

With yet another example of how you can scale down agile and yet still be agile, he relates this problem and solution:

Agile fosters changing as you build. However, if the project is a little more scrupulously planned throughout, you can build a release plan with minimal changes.

Hack #4: Agile fosters accommodating change. When developers are not reworking and continually delivering newer features, it does instill a sense of momentum. Now they can cling to the date of delivery instead of change.

In reality, the situational modifications to agile that Parekh suggests are rather moderate, but more importantly, they are practical. There are of course limits to how much you can peel away from agile before it stops being agile and becomes just another unwelcome mutant hybrid. But I think Parekh is steering clear of that dangerous, radioactive line. To hear even a couple more examples of how to hack agile, you can read Parekh’s original article here: http://tech.co/agile-not-dead-not-silver-bullet-2015-01

About John Friscia

John Friscia is the Editor of Computer Aid’s Accelerating IT Success. He began working for Computer Aid, Inc. in 2013 and continues to provide graphic design support for AITS. He graduated summa cum laude from Shippensburg University with a B.A. in English.

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