Wednesday, 16 September 2009

Agile perceptions

I've just presented at a conference titled "Agile in the public sector". I was there to represent the NHS Information Centre to talk about our experiences - good & bad - of introducing Agile practices into our area of the public sector.

There were only a couple of similar case study presentations from other speakers who were actually doing this kind of stuff on the ground - in the public sector. The rest were what I class as Evangelists who talk about the ideals of Agile and basically regurgitate the usual Agile idealism's. Apologies to those guys if this sounds disrespectful. I'm sure all of them have had a lot of experience of introducing Agile practices but it seemed too distant and abstract from the usual day to day experiences.

During the other speaker sessions I heard phrases like 'Agile is a journey' and 'Agile is a state of mind'. ok, great it's a state of mind but what can someone in the public sector do when returning to the office tomorrow to adopt this 'state of mind'? I really don't think the Agile community helps itself by presenting Agile as a mystical black art. Yes, they are right - it is a different mind set but where can individuals start when faced with introducing new practices into their organisation?

I also felt there were a few mixed messages coming out of the session. The session was supposed to be about Agile in the public sector and yet the audience were faced with DSDM, Scrum, XP, DSDM, and DSDM. One of the audience made the point that it's confusing for those entering the Agile space to know which 'flavour' of Agile is right for them? I'm not surprised and I'm probably going to confuse matters further by saying they're all right and they're all wrong.

Study all methodologies individually and take out and use the bits that best fit the needs of your project. Don't be afraid to experiment.

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