Is Scrum and other Agile Methods just Buzz?

Just recently I started to follow the "Herding Cats" blog by Glen Alleman. He writes really great articles with very criticle thoughts on what's going on in the project management world. He seems to be very experienced and writes critically about the new emerging agile trends.

Coming from a small software development shop with a couple of years of freelance experience I embraced agile methods. They seemed to be the answer to all those complicated processes, contracting and paper work and yes, I believe the thoughts and principles are good and inspiring.

Scrum Google Trends

The 12 principles behind the Agile Manifesto:

  1. Our highest priority is to satisfy the customer through early and continuous delivery of valuable software.
  2. Welcome changing requirements, even late in development. Agile processes harness change for the customer's competitive advantage.
  3. Deliver working software frequently, from a couple of weeks to a couple of months, with a preference to the shorter timescale.
  4. Business people and developers must work together daily throughout the project.
  5. Build projects around motivated individuals. Give them the environment and support they need, and trust them to get the job done.
  6. The most efficient and effective method of conveying information to and within a development team is face-to-face conversation.
  7. Working software is the primary measure of progress.
  8. Agile processes promote sustainable development. The sponsors, developers, and users should be able to maintain a constant pace indefinitely.
  9. Continuous attention to technical excellence and good design enhances agility.
  10. Simplicity–the art of maximizing the amount of work not done–is essential.
  11. The best architectures, requirements, and designs emerge from self-organizing teams.
  12. At regular intervals, the team reflects on how to become more effective, then tunes and adjusts its behavior accordingly.

Look beyond one's own nose

Glen reminded me though that not everything is agile. Not the whole earth runs on agile. Scrum is not the solution to every project management problem and many of those principles have actually already been used but are now sold with fancier words. Further I realized that it's very beneficial to look beyond one's own nose. Why not have a look into how project management is done in construction projects with hundreds of stakeholders? Streets and houses have been built for hundreds of years, they might actually understand some things.

Agile is great

Don't get me wrong. I really like to work in an agile world but I also came to realize that very often by just following common sense you'll automatically follow agile principles:

  • Good, efficient communication
  • close work with the client, after all we all want a happy client
  • Healthy, friendly team ambience where everyone feels at ease and contributes to the solution

Thanks Glen. Keep up the good writing.