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The Legal Boundaries Of Agile

Going Agile means not only an organisational and cultural shift, but also a commercial one. The impacts of which can be widespread, and in some cases, could land the adopting organisation in legal hot water.

Alberto Brandilini recently reported in his blog something he learned about the legality of practicing Agile in Europe:

During the latest JAOO conference, Alistair Cockburn deliberately provoked the audience stating that "we can't do agile in Europe" and this was due to EU regulations for contracts, which have to be filled with he requirements of the software to be developed by a contractor.

Alberto goes on to elaborate on this phenomenon, using the example of dealing with a problem programmer:

In Italy we can't fire. Job market regulations make firing an employee a very long nasty and complicated process, and 99% of the cases a non-viable option. I mean, in some places, you can't fire somebody even if you found him stealing (which puts the problem programmer in a much better light).

Comparatively, In an earlier InfoQ article Steve Freeman wrote about the divergent agendas of Microsoft and the TestDriven.Net plug-in for Visual Studio, leading to the threat of legal action against the author Jamie Carsdale for including certain api calls as part of the VS Express plug-in distribution, leaving users of the tool in a similar legal predicament.

Given that legal frameworks are set about in such a way that doesn’t encompass change (BRUF, lengthy change process) , is it inevitable that an development approach that is deeply rooted in embracing change will collide with the law? Indeed, what are the actual legal boundaries of agile practices, and what experiences do readers have of their touch points?

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