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Has Agile Outlived Its Usefulness?

In an article for Forbes, Jason Bloomberg questions if agile’s problems are starting to outweigh its benefits, and if it is time for something else to replace it. Everyone grab your torches and pitchforks. This is going to get messy.

Agile Away

Here are the chief problems Bloomberg sees with agile and its most successful offspring, scrum:

The numerous complaints about Agile include its lack of focus on software architecture, its emphasis on one-off software projects as opposed to building reusable code, and the reinforcement of the notion that the software development team is a self-contained group, as opposed to participants in a broader collaborative effort.

Perhaps the greatest concern over Agile, however, is the ambiguity of Agile’s principles themselves. Agile calls for self-organizing teams, but there remains no clear understanding of how best to self-organize. Agile also calls for the stakeholder or customer to be an active part of the team – but stakeholders have always resisted this participation, and when they do join the Agile team, they struggle with their role.

As Bloomberg sees it, ambiguity leaks into continuous improvement initiatives as well, such that the shape and timeliness of “improvement” becomes unreliable. Another issue is understanding where the agile team stands in relation to, among other people, third-party providers who do not hold values in common with the team. However, if agile is to be replaced, figuring out what will replace it is a little fuzzy.

Some would say the answer is lean, but this might be worthy of some eye rolls, as agile has been informed by lean in some respects practically all along. To go back and break down which processes are truly agile or truly lean would be a waste of time and energy, as Bloomberg openly acknowledges. Adding DevOps into the discussion only creates even more questions of which process belongs to which methodology. Justin Arbuckle, Vice President of Worldwide Transformation and Chief Enterprise Architect at Chef Software, somewhat frustratingly concludes that whatever ultimately replaces agile will be a hybrid of agile, lean, and DevOps all at once. If this turns out to be true though, all it does is confirm that agile will continue to be useful for quite some time.

You can view the full article here: http://www.forbes.com/sites/jasonbloomberg/2015/12/11/has-agile-outlived-its-usefulness/

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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