Becoming Agile

Surfer on a Wave

I’m a big fan of agile. I find it’s a faster, more flexible, higher quality, lower cost and lower risk way of working. I also find it a refreshingly honest and adult way of dealing with people. But I didn’t always think this way.

When I first started developing software in the late 80’s for EDS (now HP), most big software projects used a strict step-by-step methodology. We used an approach called Method/1 from Anderson consulting (now Accenture). It came in 20 white binders and was commonly known as methadone because it put everyone to sleep.

Lightweight agile software development methods evolved in the mid-1990s as a reaction against these heavyweight waterfall methods. In 2000 I switched from traditional requirements to agile User Stories and found it so much better.

In 2004, I worked at Seek with Dean Netherton who gently persuaded us all to implement agile and eXtreme Programming. On the job application and job mail project I managed we had a cross-functional team of developers, testers, a business analyst and product owner, daily scrum meetings, a feature backlog, progressive elaboration of requirements, automated unit testing, continuous integration and deployment, a project wiki and burn down charts. To my surprise and delight this was by far the smoothest, easiest and most successful project I’d ever worked on! Ever since then I have been reading as much as I can about agile, lean and systems thinking and implementing an agile approach whenever I can.

I am convinced that Agile will give you a much better outcome than the traditional ways of working that you’re used to.

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