There is an interesting debate taking place at the moment on the interweb regarding the use of the word Agile.
Dave Thomas blogged Agile Is Dead (Long Leave Agility) about the fact that the word’s meaning power and relevance has been undermined by years of people using it inappropriately to describe things that are not always in accordance with the initial Agile Manifesto. It is clear to me that he is not attacking the potential agile qualities and attributes a team or organisation could reach, but his chosen title certainly gets people juices flowing.
Among the many responses to the above mentioned blog entry, I enjoyed J.B. Rainsberger’s Reports of Agile’s Death, yadda yadda.… The argument is well presented and the content resonates with me much more than Dave’s initial blog.
I invite everyone to read both entries, Dave’s point are interesting and I share is goals of reaching agile behaviours, but I also feel the word Agile still has value.
In addition to what J.B. Rainsberger pointed out, I personally use the word in two ways:
- when I hear / read it: this is a signal for me to form a set of hypotheses regarding the emitter of the signal. This is useful because the validation observations / experiments are clear to me and can usually be setup and run quickly. Most of these experiments are essentially the observation of agile attributes being there in a team/organisation or not, which is a mixture of them doing “stuff” and getting the expected result from it.
- when I say / write it: this is me doing the opposite as a way to establish a human transaction context, comprising of a glossary and the underlying idea of Humanity and Trust. People’s reaction to it can be very informative, and allow me to adapt to absence of knowledge and friend or foe during our exchange : )
Finally, I have used the word and keep using it, as well as other new ones that I have added to my vocabulary – all for the same purpose and effects – such as lean, Kanban, lean startup… There is no problem with words in general and none with this one in particular; and there is no problem with other people to hold a bad definition of the word: this is in fact a token for a conversation!
Agile is not dead, some instances still mean great and humane progress, exchange and continuous experimentation and improvements: so how about we keep this in mind and celebrate instead…