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Agile is an Adjective, Not a Noun

I’ve been meaning to comment about what Paul said a few weeks ago, but just haven’t had the chance. He is quite right that agile has been commoditized and is now seen as a software development process itself.

People are getting “Agile” books and saying “Let’s do Agile”. Then they do what the book says. This is fine for a while until they realize their situation doesn’t quite fit the book. Then they are forced to either stay with the book or change how they are doing things. Most stay with the book because “The book must be right”. They try to smash their square peg into a round hole and things start to go downhill. This assumes that the people are even able to recognize when the book doesn’t reflect the situation they find themselves in. Sometimes people are so caught up in following the book that they can’t see that what the book says isn’t bringing benefit and, even worse, is causing damage to their project. Anyway, whether they know it or not, these people are now doing process for process sake and we are right back where we started from before this whole agile thing came around. Doing a bunch of stuff that doesn’t help just because we think it will (because someone wrote it in a book), and not bothering to take the time to examine what we are doing in order to change it for the better. Except this time it is worse because people think they are doing the right thing by “doing Agile”. Like Paul said, we should _be_ agile not “do Agile”. Using my new term, the goal is (or should be) to be as pliant with our software development process as possible.