Facilitating the Spread of Knowledge and Innovation in Professional Software Development

Write for InfoQ


Choose your language

InfoQ Homepage News Dangers of Agile Adoption

Dangers of Agile Adoption

Siddharta Govindaraj is a software engineer with a Singapore startup, who has noted how Agile is being adopted by more mainstream enterprises, and has blogged on 5 dangers when adopting agile processes - and what to do about them.  In a separate post, Simon Baker, taking up the theme, relates these dangers to his experience as an independent agile coach and consultant in a large organization.

Agile software development, formerly the "cool new thing," is becoming recognized as a useful tool to help more mainstream businesses reach their goals. Govindaraj notes that "This is great news for agile, but there are some dangers lurking in the background."  He outlines five points that companies need to watch for when adopting agile processes. Here are the hilights... see the article for his full text:
  1. Unfamiliarity:  Mainstream companies are less likely to understand the principles of the process. They've heard about 'this agile thing' and want the same benefits on their projects.

  2. Top-down thinking: Agile processes work bottom-up, where the team is empowered to take many decisions... this can be uncomfortable for many managers.

  3. Culture change:  Agile processes not only demand a change in they way software is developed, but a change in culture.

  4. Incomplete implementation:  Tailoring the process is good if you know what you are doing, but can lead to disaster if it is done just for convenience.

  5. Silver bullet syndrome:  Agile processes will not magically deliver your software, cure all ills and create world peace.  Agile can help with the process, but don't ignore the other components.
Govindaraj goes on to ask: "So what can you do about it?" and offers three ideas to help newcomers get started with Agile:
  • Learn about agile:  Really learn about it, don't just read a single article in a magazine about how Agile is the next big thing.

  • Start small:  Choose a small project as a prototype, and iteratively refine the process. When you are comfortable, move on to another project, then another.

  • Examine the organization culture:  A big stumbling block is reconciling the existing organization culture with the values of Agile processes.
Simon Baker, a Certified Scrum Master, is currently working with a department in a large organisation, on a project that is part of a much larger program of work.  He notes:
Like any work, it has its ups and downs. The ups generally relate to the project, the people I'm working with and not having to compromise on our team's use of Extreme Programming, Scrum and Lean thinking. The downs are moments of annoying frustration when we encounter the wider program and its organisation, bureaucracy and dysfunction.
Baker goes on to relate Govindaraj's "5 dangers" to his own experience in his blog entry: Relating to the dangers when adopting Agile, where he shares some anecdotes that support Govindaraj's observations and suggestions.

Rate this Article