Interview: Kent Beck on Agile Adoption & Values

| by Kurt Christensen Follow 0 Followers on Feb 10, 2007. Estimated reading time: 1 minute |

Kent Beck is behind much of what is associated with agile software development, including the JUnit testing framework and Extreme Programming. Kent was also one of the initial driving forces behind the use of design patterns in object-oriented programming. In a new interview, InfoQ editor Kurt Christensen asks Kent some questions on a variety of topics that are currently of interest to the agile community.

On doing agile "right," Kent had this to say:

The vagueness of the term agile can be a deterrent. Asking "Are we doing it right?" (or the more likely scenario - telling someone else "You're not doing it right!") is not a very valuable question. "Are we learning all we can?" and "What do we need to change to most benefit our company's goals?" have a lot more impact. If agility is a mindset, then measures of correctness don't really apply... What an agile expert would think of the process is far less important than how your process is working for your organization.
...and on the issue of whether or not the term "agile" is becoming just another buzzword:
I have always been concerned that the term "agile" is such a generically attractive word, it would be used by people who had no intention of accepting the substance of the ideas. Who wouldn't want to be agile? Words are easy; ideas that have value usually have responsibilities attached.

Read the InfoQ interview with Kent Beck.

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Great interview by Kevin Williams

Both questions and answers were thought-provoking and highly interesting. Good job!

About Certification by Juan Bernabo

In my opinion certification is being used in the agile world as a "positive incentive" for adoption in the corporations, as one of the twelve leverage points to intervene in a system as proposed by Donella Meadows.

I see it as a way to intervene in a system (our software industry) to obtain some future desired effects, like growing the adoption rate by minimizing the barriers for entry in the corporate world.

In some ways agile aproaches in corporations, compete for resources, visibility, adoption, interest, minds with other aproaches, and I think most of them are growing possibly by some strong positive incentives, not by their results.

If certification acelerates the rate of adoption in corporations, more people will be investing resources, like time, money, talent, criativity to agile aproaches and more could be advanced in that direction, and less will be invested in aproaches that really are not that effective for software development.

Of couse it would be much, much easier if we all had built in the power to trascend paradigms.

Re: Great interview by Kurt Christensen

Thanks for the compliment, and I'd add thanks to Kent for taking the time to answer my questions.

Re: About Certification by Kurt Christensen

I agree that certification probably makes it easier to get your foot in the door at large corporations, and I'd even agree that certification could be beneficial for the agile community as a whole, by helping to define what's important, and by ensuring some minimal level of competency among practitioners. But the devil's in the details. What does it mean to be a "certified" agile coach, anyway? And who gets to decide?

Re: About Certification by Manish Bhatt

Yes. What defines pass/fail in this type of certification process? Isn't there a risk where we have all these "certified" agile coaches representing knowledge laid out in bunch of books titled ?agile certification guide? or few fake project scenarios designed by examiners ?.

Re: About Certification by Andrew Goddard

I think a pass/fail system would imply that we know the correct action to take in every situation. The idea, at least in my opinion, of Scrum is that because you are in the situation, you are closer to the problem and do your best - based on your knowledge and values - to apply the "right" solution.

Saying something is "pass/fail" would mean we only have 2 solutions to any problem and I don't think things are that simple.

The biggest thing I took out of Ken Schwaber's Scrum Master Certification course was the principles to base decisions on - not what is the correct thing to do in this situation or that situation.

Re: About Certification by Deborah Hartmann

I think, in the CSM, the pass/fail is a measure of whether you clearly understood those principles. How we'd best measure that is the subject of much discussion.

Excellent interview ... by Vasudev Ram

... thanks !
I particularly liked the insights about the points on human aspects Kent talks about.

Vasudev Ram
Dancing Bison Enterprises
Software consulting and training

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