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A Very Personal Look at 12 Years of Agile

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Earlier this month Simon Baker, agile coach and co-founder of Energized Work, published an interesting overview of his experience with Agile methodologies. The paper, entitled “No bull”, can be downloaded in pdf format from Energized Works servers.

The intention behind the paper was to provoke new ideas, look back at the progress already made across different teams and understand what the future of Agile is. In one of his tweets Baker himself described the process of writing it as a “somewhat cleansing experience”.

Baker touches on a range of topics — from the reality of the early beginnings of Agile, through the changes he experienced in different companies, adapting to new practices and methodologies, to his thoughts on the future of the movement. He warns against relying too much on a process which can be limiting for experimentation and creative development. Parts of the text focus on the cost of technical debt, management and poor quality of software. Baker points out that there are still debates going on concerning the best ways of adopting Agile and that not everyone yet understands the difference between “doing Agile” — blindly following the process, and being agile. In the final section of the text Baker points out the things that the agile community needs to understand and apply in the future:

  • maintaining the balance between business value, software quality, process and experimentation,
  • not limiting the change to the IT departments,
  • letting your managers become contributing members of the team - good management is everyone’s responsibility.
  • as the author points out: “Whether something is agile or Agile isn’t the point. The point is how do we get to be more effective every day?

The text got quite a lot of people excited and responses in the community are mostly positive. Chris Pitts, a UK based agile coach recommends the paper, saying simply “Read it. You know it makes sense!”. Stephen Cresswel from Acuminous listed some of his favourite sound bytes from the text and posted Baker’s profile information on his blog and Kelly Waters, author of the “All about Agile” book calls the paper insightful and interesting.

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