Agile with a capital "A"

I worry about the "commoditization of agile methods."  In previous consulting gigs, I heard lots of buzz about "Agile" as though "Agile" were a software development process itself.  Heck, we fell prey to such thinking within our own organization: "Let's get this team to do Agile."

Agility in software development is really about believing in certain principles, and adopting practices that reflect those principles; and being willing to measure the effectiveness of those practices within the organization and change course and try new things if you believe they can help your organization delivering more, working, higher-quality software.  Above all, it reflects a commitment to delivering working, quality software frequently, and helping the software's users be more competitive and successful--and heck, mayeb even improving their lives.  Agility is not merely claiming "we're doing Agile" (note the capital "A").  Your organization's particular flavor of agility is to be tailored to that specific organization; it is not an off-the-shelf process any more so than, say, RUP (itself a process framework).  For that matter, no process should be used off-the-shelf; least of all agile methods.  From the Manifesto: "...we have come to value Individuals and interactions over processes and tools..."

In short, you don't "do Agile"--you are agile, to varying degrees.

Written on August 13, 2005