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Beyond Agile Myths: What the research shows

Esther Schindler (16185) writes | about 2 years ago

Programming 0

Esther Schindler writes "Scott Fulton wrote two in-depth articles about the current state of Agile development, based on research from two computer scientists about what developers really do, rather than what the developers might like to think they do. And, as the newscasters teasers say, the results might surprise you. (Don't worry. Nobody is saying that Agile Sucks. This is more about how it's being used in the real world, and what successful Agile teams have in common.)

First, in “Agile” Often Isn’t, Scott looked at the cultural effects of Agile methodologies on workforces. The researchers made two unanticipated discoveries, he reports: One, companies adopting Agile actually struggle more to cope with the side-effects. Two, development teams that succeed in producing better products and pleasing customers aren’t exactly using Agile after all. For example:

Entitled “Agile Undercover,” the first report from Hoda and her colleagues demonstrated conclusively that Agile development teams were failing to communicate with their customers — not just occasionally, but mainly. And in order to ameliorate the impact of these failures, teams and their companies were making active, intentional efforts to keep customers in the dark about their development practices, including their schedules of deliverables. ...

“Teams are very keen on pleasing their customers, and it’s hard for them to bring up issues with customer collaboration,” Hoda tells me. So to keep the customer at bay and out of their hair, development teams hire or appoint a customer proxy. An ambassador, if you will. Or, to be more truthful, a sales associate.

The second article, Is Teamwork Dead? A Post-Agile Prognosis, looks more at the dichotomy of "team success." Culturally, when we "win," we tend to give credit to the team ("Gosh, it wasn't just me...") but when a project fails, there's an assumption it's one person's fault, even if we don't look for a scapegoat. Making a team more than a bunch of people in the same room is a special skill, and one that Agile methodologies rely on — remember the part about self-organizing teams? "Though they may not go about this process consciously or intentionally, individual group members employing Agile for the first time, Hoda’s team found, tend to adopt one of six roles," Scott reports, such as mentor, coordinator, and promoter.

See if the research agrees with your Agile experience."

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