Debunking Agile

Keith Richards at the APM conference
Keith Richards at the APM conference

Agile is:

  • Change friendly
  • Iterative
  • Collaborative
  • Chunked delivery
  • Communications focused
  • Business focused
  • Scope tolerant
  • Quality focused (if you do it correctly!)

These were the themes that set the tone for Keith Richards’ presentation at the APM Conference in London last month. “The basics of project management seem to have been thrown away with some Agile,” he said. “Agile’s coming of age. Agile 2.0 is happening now.” Richards presented some common misconceptions about Agile.

The 9 Myths of Agile

Scrum is an Agile project management approach.
Incorrect. “It’s to do with solution delivery,” Richards said.

Agile is a method.
Incorrect. “Agile is a philosophy,” he explained.

Agile is binary.
Incorrect. It’s not a decision between Agile and Waterfall. You can have degrees of agility.

Agile is a ‘family’ of agile methods.
Incorrect. There are only three methods: DSDM®, Scrum and XP.

[Update 11/11/10: Keith pointed out to me that this only relates to outside the USA.]

Heavyweight approaches cannot be Agile.
Incorrect. “You can use PRINCE2® in a very Agile way,” Richards said.

You start with a ‘backlog’.
Incorrect. You have to create the backlog. It’s required upfront work.

Agile is quicker/faster.

Incorrect. It takes as long as it takes, but it does finish on time.

Agile is ‘emergent’.
Incorrect. An architecture or design might emerge on a greenfield implementation, “but a lot of the time we’re not coming from a zero base,” Richards explained.

Agile scales naturally.
Incorrect. It takes effort and thought to scale Agile.

Who’s going to admit to believing any of those myths? Or do the Agile community members out there disagree with what Richards said?