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Agile Methods and Other Fairy Tales!

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  • David Longstreet
    Not long ago I wrote an article, Agile Methods and Other Fairy Tales I guess it has caused some consternation among Agile proponents. Recently, I have
    Message 1 of 314 , Jun 26, 2007
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      Not long ago I wrote an article, "Agile Methods and Other Fairy
      Tales" I guess it has caused some consternation among Agile
      proponents. Recently, I have received several emails encouraging me
      to defend myself on this yahoo-group. Not that I need to, but I
      thought I would respond.

      You can see the original article at "Agile Methods and Other Fairy
      Tales" at www.SoftwareMetrics.Com/Agile (http://

      Ad Hominem Attacks
      When you Agile folks publicly write on your blogs, that I am
      "incompetent", "unprofessional" , "incoherent", "dangerous" and my
      ideas are "desperate attacks on agile" you are only giving me fuel
      for my conference talks and future papers. I have received several
      emails, some actually with threats. I have had a couple of people,
      whom I do not know, call me and try to passionately persuade me my
      ideas are wrong. As I read over the posts, there is little comment
      on the ideas I put forth and a lot of discussion of "he does not know

      You just can't believe someone would dare to criticize your Agile.
      It is if you are willing to defend Agile at all costs.

      A Bit of Background
      It is important to note I am not in the methodology business. The
      bulk of my work these day is in mergers and acquisitions of software
      companies. I have helped a lot of companies around the world
      improve productivity and quality.

      Over the years, I have not limited myself to just studying the
      software industry. I have tried to retrace the footsteps of other
      industries like architecture, engineering, medicine in hopes of
      learning from their successes and failures. I have interviewed music
      conductors, architects, industrial designer, graphic designers and
      others in hopes of gleaning information useful for my clients and the
      software industry as a whole.

      I have worked around the globe and have witnessed first hand the best
      and worst practices. You can see a client list at
      www.SofwareMetrics.Com/client.htm and you can read more about me at

      Contrary to what has been written by Agile proponents, I have done
      extensive research on the topic of Agile and more specifically, the
      idea of Software Development. I do have enough background to dare
      criticize Agile.

      When I did the background research for the article. I choose the
      most popular books on Agile listed on Amazon.Com. I can provide
      quotes from my sources to support my arguments. Let me give you one
      such example, I wrote, "Agile proponents prefer communication between
      people instead of documentation and later I write, "Agile proponents
      rely on individual's communication and memory instead of
      documentation." Here is the source "The primary mode of
      communication is conversation. Documents may be created, but there
      is no attempt to capture all project documentation information in
      writing. An Agile team does not demand written specs, written
      plans, or written designs. Team members may create them if they
      perceive a need, but they are not the default. Conversation is the
      default." This is from Agile Software Development, Principles,
      Patterns & Practices." by Robert C. Martin.

      Martin Fowlers website is another source for my information. I
      used Martin because I was publicly debating Thoughtworks (Martin does
      a lot work for Thoughtworks). Martin invokes the name of Fredrick
      Taylor to support his argument. It is if there has not been any
      management research in the past 100 years. The Agile argument is
      based upon old management techniques and most of management research
      today is in regards to information workers. I would encourage you to
      join The Academy of Management (AOM) and get up to speed on
      contemporary management research.

      Again, every point I make regarding Agile has at least one source
      some of them many sources. During my presentations I point out the
      sources, but since the paper was not an academic paper I did not
      footnote it. Again, go ahead and deny it, but I can provide sources.

      We are not respected
      The software industry is becoming a collective joke among other
      professionals such as industrial designers, engineers, physicians,
      architects and attorneys -- just about anyone who has to interface
      with a piece of software thinks software developers are idiots. The
      software "professional" is portrayed in movies, commercials as
      incompetent, arrogant and is spoofed on Saturday Night Live,
      "Company Computer Guy."

      Contrary to what has been written by "Agilitas" my intent it to bring
      a level of professionalism to software development.

      Specialization (a dangerous idea!)
      As some have written my ideas are "dangerous." Let me give you one
      of my most dangerous ideas.

      In the software profession there is no specialization whatsoever.
      This is rather unique especially when we examine the idea of
      specialization in other industries and disciplines. Other
      disciplines like law, medicine, architecture, engineering have all
      specialized. I encourage software developers to specialize and not be
      a generalist. Those companies where developers have specialized have
      solved the ever changing requirements problems. These developers
      read their respective trade magazines and attend trade shows (of
      their industry). They are making an investment in the industry of
      their core business. The bottom line they are stepping away from
      the code and specializing along industry lines.

      I hope none of you write --this is an Agile idea too! It is not an
      Agile idea. It does not matter what the idea, if it is a good idea it
      is part of Agile. I hear this all the time. It is like, "yeah,
      yeah, that is the ticket."

      Companies can improve both productivity and quality by implementing
      some simple things -- they do not need to adopt yet another
      methodology -- this time Agile.

      Battle of Ideas
      So if you want to have an honest debate, I am happy to engage in a
      debate. If you want to engage in personal attacks or believe every
      idea is an Agile idea -- I have no interest at all.

      If your intent is to dig in and defend Agile at all cost, I have no
      interest either. I am only interested in debating ideas about
      improving software development forward and bring a level of
      professionalism to the industry.

      No doubt, I have do have enough background in software development
      to dare to criticize Agile. Contrary to what has been written, I
      have built at lot of stuff in my life (including software).

      Again, you can read the original paper at www.SoftwareMetrics.Com/
      Agile (http://www.softwaremetrics.com/Agile)

      David Longstreet
      Software Economist

      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
    • jerryyz
      ... Talking my work will reveal information about the client which is not something appropriate. Not just the work involved talking about the context and
      Message 314 of 314 , Jul 5, 2007
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        --- In extremeprogramming@yahoogroups.com, "Bill Kelly" <billk@...>
        >I find it really frustrating when you respond that way, when someone
        >asks you for a concrete example.

        Talking my work will reveal information about the client which is not
        something appropriate. Not just the work involved talking about the
        context and process.

        the best is that you provide a context such as tax software and do it


        > Bill
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