Agile Myths

Having assisted numerous companies with adopting Agile I’ve heard a lot of concerns and myths. I’m always surprised how many times I hear the same myths quoted as facts and thought I should share my thoughts:


Myth: Implementing Agile is easy
Truth: Agile does have some basic concepts but implementing it properly and making it self maintaining requires analysis, effort, a mindset shift and absolutely everyone needs to be bought in.


Myth: Agile gives instant benefit
Truth: Benefits are often possible in the short term but be prepared for a certain amount of disruption and effort aligning to any new process.


Myth: Agile means no documentation
Truth: This one actually frustrates me the most. The Agile manifesto states “Working software over comprehensive documentation”. This means focus on working software but do not ignore documentation. Be extremely wary of anyone that states otherwise!


Myth: Agile means ‘hacking’
Truth: Agile encourages prototyping and early development but this needs to be aligned with the solution, testing and the customer. Just “hacking” is not going to deliver working software in an efficient manner.


Myth: Agile means poor quality
Truth: This is another frustrating quote. Agile is about building quality in from the start not about catching it late. Quality level needs to be confirmed and adhered to right from the start.


Myth: Agile is a silver bullet
Truth: Agile offers common sense benefits but it can’t solve everything alone. It still requires effort, analysis and alignment.


Myth: Agile is easy. We can just read a book
Truth: I’ve been asked into a few companies where they have used consultants or internal staff who have simply read a book on the subject. This can provide benefit but I tend to find that they miss the mindset shift of what Agile is about and therefore miss at least 50% of the benefit.


Myth: Agile is new/just a fad
Truth: One can argue that Ford in 1910 and Toyota in 1940 were the earliest form of Lean development. Agile is just about best practise so it can’t be a fad.


Myth: Traditional delivery never works
Truth: Some projects need to deliver against specific deliverables which are locked down at the start and must not change. In this case you may be better off with waterfall.


Myth: Agile replaces everything that has gone before
Truth: Agile learns from everything that has gone before by identifying best practise which delivers.


Myth: Agile means no planning – “Just do it”.
Truth: Agile prevents analysis paralysis and planning with unknowns but focusing on the immediate deliverables. These deliverables need to be clear and agreed or they will not be accepted.


Myth: Agile doesn’t support Jnr members
Truth: I would always favour a small group of highly talented individuals but we need to bring new people on and some tasks would better suit Junior members of staff. Just ensure they have the tools to do the work and they are supported and trusted.


Myth: Agile = Scrum.
Truth: There are many types of Agile. Scrum is just one. Each company should look at the different types (e.g. XP, DSDM..) and choose whatever works for them.

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