Friday, August 22, 2014

SPaMCast Question #2: If the large adopters continue to change agile, will agile become just a shell of a word?

[NOTE: Over the coming weeks, the CMMI Appraiser will be sharing snippets from a recent conversation with Tom Cagley on SPaMCast about whether agile is resilient – i.e., whether it will be able to spring back into shape after being bound or compressed by the pressures of development and support – and how frameworks like the CMMI can be used to make agile more resilient. Listen to the full interview at SPaMCast 296.] 

Jeff, If the large adopters continue to change agile, will agile become just a shell of a word? ~ Tom Cagley, SPaMCast

Tom, that's exactly right. And it won’t be the first time something like this has happened. There once was a day when Waterfall was considered the new, cool thing, and everybody loved it. Life was so simple then!

I am old enough to remember when people were saying, "Let's do this really cool idea, where we can make projects predictable. We can make people more productive. We can get everybody to understand and we can collaborate.” All of these words were being used back in the 1970s and 80s. Unfortunately, large adopters of the method have turned Waterfall into a shell of an idea. If this continues, there's no reason that agile won't go the same way.

I'm a big fan of history. I believe very strongly that history continues to repeat itself over and over and over again, and always has and always will. And for the science fiction fans among us, you saw this on Battlestar Galactica, where they always said over and over again, "What's happened before will happen again." 

This problem of taking a great concept and turning into a shell has all happened before. It will all happen again. And the same thing will happen with agile unless we take steps now to strengthen and make it more resilient.

What is resilience, anyway? The formal definition says resilience is power or ability to return to the original form or position after being bent, compressed, or stretched; elasticity. It is also described as the ability to recover readily from illness, depression, adversity or the like; buoyancy.

I believe these are two very apt definitions of resilience, given what is happening in our market and the influence of some of the newer players – such as the federal government, and big defense contractors – who are demanding that their vendors “go agile.”

In my opinion, this why we need a resilient model.

Check the Broadsword web site ( for our next webinar on Agile Resiliency.

Like this blog? Forward to your nearest engineering or software exec!

Jeff Dalton is a Certified SCAMPI Lead Appraiser, Certified CMMI Instructor, author and consultant with years of real-world experience with the CMMI in all types of organizations. Jeff has taught thousands of students in CMMI trainings and has received an aggregate satisfaction score of 4.97 out of 5 from his students.

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