In his last blogpost Bob McIlree shares his thoughts after a couple of agile classes he made recently. The whole post is worth reading but my attention was drawn to one general observation – among experienced project managers distance to agile methods is significant and confidence in their effectiveness lays two feet below the ground level.
I was never an agile junkie, I rather prefer agile methods described by Steve Yegge. By the way I guess that’s something which can earn me an excommunication from some Agile Conservatives. What more, I haven’t treated any software development methodology as a religion. Yes, you’ll hear about evangelists, bibles etc, but that doesn’t work like a religion (you just believe and it works). You can easily find environments where agile methods would suit well, but there are some where even implementing a cycle model would end up like a tsunami in a seaside village. That’s one thing which lies behind fear of agile methods. Another is of course lack of will to move from safe and well-known environment. I’m not surprised looking at skeptics among PMs. And to be honest I really don’t think that Bob’s classes will help to overcome distance to anything other what they know.
There’s only one way here – change your environment. Afraid of water? Want to learn swim? Training classes in a classroom won’t help you much. I’d rather try to change environment into more waterish one, like pool or something. I moved to my current firm after several years of working with MSF. My naive point of view was that I’d implement methods I knew and it would work perfectly like during the good old days. I couldn’t be more wrong. Different projects, different people, different teams, different customers, different organization, everything so damn different. Why the heck the process should be the same?
The same rule applies to agile methods. Take from them what you believe can work in that particular environment and leave what you think is useless. There’s none universal and perfect methodology and, excuse my bold statement, agile methods aren’t any different here. In other case we all would use them and I’d be unemployed. My answer for quite often heard “I’m a big fan of agile methods” is “And I’m a big fan of common sense.”