gavd.co.uk

My games, code, writing

CardiffDevWorks

Using Agile as a means to an end

In the classic film “Enter the Dragon”, Bruce Lee said something quite powerful:

“Its like a finger pointing away to the moon. Don’t concentrate on the finger, or you will miss all that heavenly glory.”

Good advice! I have frequently overheard people make suggestions in discussions, only to be countered with something like “but that’s not agile”.

Do you see what is potentially wrong with that?

“Agile” is not a synonym for “good”. The “most agile” way of doing something isn’t necessarily the best for a given situation. Focusing on “being agile” rather than getting results is a slippery slope – it can give rise to a feeling of smug superiority. Individuals and companies may quite happily boast of about how agile they are, even as results diminish.

Agile principles give us a lot of tools to focus on results. This is a good thing. It’s unfortunate when people then look at the process *in and of itself*, rather than as a *means to an end*. Our goal is delivering excellent software that meets our customers’ requirements and makes them stoked – not to have some textbook process so we can show off at conferences! Taking your eye off the goal can shipwreck your organisation.

The same thing is true of testing. Of performance analysis. Of deployment and automation. All these things are tools to achieve results. They’re not “the thing”!

By all means, let us embrace and adopt helpful principles. Let us look at our processes and tools and see if they are giving us the results we want. Let us not, however, be so short sighted as to focus on process for its own sake, divorced from the results we want it to help us to achieve.

That quote again:
“Its like a finger pointing away to the moon. Don’t concentrate on the finger, or you will miss all that heavenly glory.”

This article was posted in Blog. Bookmark the permalink. Follow comments with the RSS feed for this post.