Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Agile's weakness - not 3 steps ahead

After having lunch recently with a vendor leading us through an Agile process, I mentioned what I believe to be a drawback in the process. Agile does not look far ahead of a project. While this clearly has benefits (i.e. Heads-down on current deliverables, no 100+ requirements doc), it can mean the big picture view getting lost.

I recall a panel at Infoworld's CTO forum in 2002, where Kent Beck and Grady Booch argued this exact point. Kent claimed that the Agile (XP at the time) team would come up with a grand architecture, and Grady said it would be half-baked. By the way, this was probably the best panel I've seen at a conference. The moderator took notes on index cards from the audience right from the beginning.

I think that managers need to look 3 moves ahead separately from the Agile process, and then figure out how to share or infuse that thinking with the team, again outside the Agile process. Dare I say best of both worlds? I would be happy to hear contrary opinions or experiences here, and I'll admit I've not researched if there are ani long-term Agile models.

1 comment:

lukemelia said...

In a healthy agile team, the team itself will be thinking ahead and helping the product owner surface risks. This can be confusing because the team will also be practicing YAGNI in technology choices, deferring the implementation of grand architectural schemes until the last responsible moment... But that doesn't mean an engaged team isn't thinking about the future.