This isn’t the agile you’re looking for – Part I

In the land of software development, Steve McConnell is arguably a giant among men. Seriously – this is the guy who was a developer-contractor-project-manager at Microsoft back when they were good, who took the practices they had evolved and wrote them down, publishing code complete and rapid development. After Microsoft, he founded , a Construx, software-method training consultancy that also does a little do-ing, and has done well.

I am happy for him.

Steve’s books pre-date the concept of “agile”, but they deal with things like uncertainly and scope in way that was very rare for the early 1990’s. Compared with other approaches, Steve’s ideas are well-thought, well-considered, sane, and have a chance to actually work.

And, about about two years ago, he started to respond to agile. First, it was with speeches about how agile methods could fail – then it was how his company could help.

Then, yesterday, I got a piece of print advertising (yes, they still make it) from Construx. Construx was going to teach me how to be agile.

I had hoped Construx was secure in itself enough that it didn’t have to add “And Agile!” to it’s seminars in order to attract training dollars. (Over the past three years, I’ve seen a number of old-school consultants teach ‘agile’ seminars. Construx probably held out the longest.) I know some of these folks; they are generally full-time trainers who don’t find any time to actually do contracting. How they went from traditional development techniques to teaching agile without actually doing it, I’ll never know.

Or … Maybe I do. I may not have a business degree and I’m certainly not a marketer – but I do know that Agile has become a marketing slogan. Maybe it always has been. Still, in 2002, when the people pushing agile were Ron Jeffries, Kent Beck, Elizabeth Hendrickson, Ward Cunningham, and Martin Fowler – these were people who first walked the walk and developed a pile of projects using the techniques – then taught the seminars.

Recently, I’ve had increasingly distaste for the terms ‘going agile’, ‘doing agile’, and ‘agile or not.’ I think I am beginning to understand why.

More to come.

One comment on “This isn’t the agile you’re looking for – Part I

  1. I feel the same ways about people that says that testing is making scripts and then execute them, and ignore things like exploratory testing needs discipline.. People that think you need to test the same way that it has been doing since the 80s.

    People needs to put his hands in to projects and try things out.. the paper support everything, the practice is another history.

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