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Agile Process versus Agile Mind-set

Why agility cannot be confined to a process or method

2 June 2014

Jaya Shrivastava
AGILE++ Engineering

As Agile enthusiasts, we preach Agile practices to the world and promise that Agile is the path an organization should take to provide better-quality software. No wonder many organizations move to Agile and, indeed, find it better than traditional software development methods such as Waterfall.

Agile, especially Scrum, is a process or method that says what needs to be done, but of course it can't dictate who is doing it.

A few weeks back, I was watching the Hollywood film 300, which depicts how 300-odd fighters fought an army of millions and almost succeeded until they were betrayed. They banked on a terrain that helped them immensely to fight the enemy, and the enemy forces didn't have much of a choice but to attack head-on.

I just couldn't resist comparing the terrain advantage with the advantage provided by Agile frameworks like Scrum. Like the terrain, Scrum provides a set of advantages for overcoming the enemy.

However, will it be fair to say that these 300 fighters won because of terrain, and any random set of 300 fighters could have achieved the same result?

Well, the movie doesn't say so. It reflects on the capability of 300 best men, and we couldn't agree more on this. Human beings are intelligent, and they always apply their instinct whenever faced with any adversaries. As far as this movie is concerned, notwithstanding the terrain, it's the agility of the fighters and the guidance of their leader that gave them a certain edge against their enemy.

Similarly, Agile methods like Scrum can provide a platform, but it's the people who make or break any software. An environment of being quality-sensitive can be provided, but it's the people who write or do not write quality code.

The difference in quality of code is not much between the code of a start-up that doesn't have any resources, time, or tools to spare for long reviews and the code of a giant firm where thousands of dollars are spent for reviews, a QA team, and monolithic tools for review.

We need to train people for agility and help them be Agile. Agile methods like Scrum will only be a stepping stone; things don't stop but start from here.

I would like to conclude with the observation that Scrum doesn't come with artificial intelligence and a silver bullet. It can show you the way, but it can't make you travel it.

Opinions represent those of the author and not of Scrum Alliance. The sharing of member-contributed content on this site does not imply endorsement of specific Scrum methods or practices beyond those taught by Scrum Alliance Certified Trainers and Coaches.

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