DON'T CALL IT AGILE UNTIL YOU READ THIS

by Chris Mchale

1st published by Streamframe.

A funny thing happened on my way to blog heaven

Awhile ago we put up this post about The Agile Method. Well, it wasn't about Agile, but more about me learning what it meant to call a process Agile. I’m a wordsmith and get hung up on words, and this term Agile gets thrown around all the time in the world of software product development, so I wanted to know more about it. What exactly is an Agile Method?

 

Our big idea

As you've probably heard, we've developed our own software product, Streamframe. Streamframe's our baby and Streamframe's about the process, and we’re process freaks. Streamframe is our expression of our process. I don’t know how to put it any better.

 

Introducing . . .

 

At this point let me introduce to  Stefan Baier. Stefan is Chief Product Officer of Streamframe. It turned out Stefan had a lot to say.

 

“From a holistic perspective, neither email, nor MS-Project, nor agile, or a pure management of collaboration tool is what we wanted to do, but rather the idea things could be managed differently, information stored differently. Neither waterfall or agile are the end of a long line of development. We began to see it was okay to challenge how projects were managed, and maybe our pragmatic method of doing it in AAA game production for 10 years distilled our process into something essential, efficient and modern.”

 

We began to see it was okay to challenge how projects were managed, and maybe our pragmatic method of doing it in AAA game production for 10 years distilled our process into something essential, efficient and modern.”end“From a holistic perspective, neither email, nor MS-Project, nor agile, or a pure management of collaboration tool is what we wanted to do, but rather the idea things could be managed differently, information stored differently. Neither waterfall or agile are the

 

 

1st draft

My first draft of the post took the point of view some processes called Agile were not, in fact, agile at all. Stefan read my post but said it missed the mark a little.

 

“An excellent team might make software without ever knowing ‘agile’ methods. They just collaborate and get things done. It’s true the more resources and people there are, the more choices there are, and some teams might benefit from a guide to agile methods. But in the end agile is just a way of drawing limits for someone in a software environment where choices almost have no limits.”

The lightbulb

I was getting it now. Stefan dove in as to what agile meant.

 

 

“It shouldn't surprise an effort has taken place to limit and guide a process filled with limitless options. The natural world sets limits by choosing a path for us—taking the path through the valley between two mountains will always be the easiest choice. But in software development, any path is entertained at least once. Agile is a way to acknowledge that idea but at the same time tell us ‘don't look back and regret how you got here, work with today—keep moving.” The man was on a roll. “It's intuitive in real life to think there’s one right path, one right solution. When paths are a natural solution in the real world of forces, what solutions would you expect in a blank canvas of possibility when you’re starting a new software project?”

Getting to work

Okay, I leaned back, cracked my knuckles and let it rip on a third draft. I was really into it now. The words flowed, I had a vision, an idea, a goal, I was ready and blasted out my post in minutes. Only thing was I’d lost the plot. It was good writing, but it didn’t mean anything. I sent it to Stefan and said here it is; it’ll probably do for what we’re looking for. I was up against a deadline and needed to move on.

Stefan had some more to say about it.

 

He still thought it needed more focus, and I had to agree. And that’s when it occurred to me how to answer my initial question: What’s an Agile process? Maybe an Agile process was the process of writing this blog post!

And in the end . . .

We moved forward draft by draft until we arrived here—pretty close to a perfect expression of an agile process. 

I asked Stefan how he wanted to end things.

 

“If you’re looking for something new to say it could end on something like 'don’t worry if your team does not do agile or does agile poorly. There are a million ways to succeed as a team, and just how agile development encourages sprinting forward and then looking back and examining where you are, so do teams push forward and then look back and realize they were using the agile method all along.”

 

Perfect.