On 10/15/2016 6:59 PM, Roland Hughes wrote:
When you work off nothing but stories you are hacking on the fly...


Ok, since I've responded to this before (perhaps this should be a different thread?), I'll jump in there again and clarify where /I'm/ coming from...

First, let me say I embrace Agile, just as I embrace Waterfall, Spiral, and all other methodologies. My issue with Agile is not with the methodology itself, but with the single-mindedness with which the industry has embraced it.

Agile is the spawn of Spiral--a.k.a., rapid prototyping--elevated to what can only be viewed as a religion now in the industry, so "hacking on the fly" is what Agile is all about: Short-term gains from short-term feedback. In Spiral (which was /my/ methodology), you did the rapid prototyping and iterating with the customer to ensure that the program matched the formal requirements while you developed, instead of waiting until the end. In Agile, you forego the formal requirements gathering step, so you only and always have the customer's fiat ("User Stories") driving the direction of the development. It's hard to know when you're really done because you don't really have metrics to tell you--or the customer--when the project /is/ done.

In the 2005 book "The Art of Project Management", Scott Berkun observed:

   "For completeness, it is worth considering the simplest possible case:
   there is no project. All work is done on a piecemeal basis--requests come
   in, they are evaluated against other work, and then they are put into the
   next available slot on the schedule. Some development teams, web site
   developers, or IT programming departments work in much this way. Agile
   methods...are often recommended to these teams as the most natural system
   for organizing work because these methods stress flexibility, simplicity,
   and expectations of change."

This was just when Agile was gaining prominence, and before it had pretty much overtaken and eclipsed all other project management styles. Agile fit the "IT programming project" style of development quite well ("flexibility, simplicity, and expectations of change"), but it did not scale well in all cases, and, as some of the anecdotal evidence shows, it can actually inflict damage on some project types.

There are people who believe Agile is the best method devised, and like bacon, should be employed lavishly and in all cases. While I think it is single-minded, I understand where they are coming from. I loved (and still do love) Spiral. However, I am suspicious that those who beat their chests the most about how Agile is perfect for everything have only ever been in, or only seek out, those kind of "IT programming project" environments where it is a best fit.
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