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William Pietri over at Agile Focus has written an interesting article entitled, "Agile’s Second Chasm (and how we fell in)" in which he talks about how agile development has fallen into a common trap where large companies are now spending a lot of money hiring agile (Scrum) consultants just so that they can say they are agile, but all the while avoiding any change that is required by Scrum.


It echoes the questions that I've been asking for a while, "Can a fortune 500 company actually do agile development?"  I'm starting to think that the answer is "usually not"


William ask 3 questions at the end of his article that I will answer here.


1) Have I seen agile development brought in and then preemptively customized (read: made into ScrummerFall)?   Yes, Scrum is hard and disruptive.  It's a spotlight on company dysfunction.  In a low trust environment like most fortune 500 companies Scrum will be subverted by anyone who has ever seen "transparency" translate into someone being laid off.


2) If I had to do it all over again, would I change anything?  No, this is a natural progression, but the agile principles are powerful enough, that the companies that don't adopt them will no longer be competitive and will start to fail.


3) Is this situation solvable?  I think it is. 

I think that one of the issues is that you often see companies implementing Scrum, but avoiding the agile engineering practices.  I believe that you cannot do one without the other.  Scrum keeps the ship sailing in smooth deep waters.  The agile engineering practices keep the engine running smoothly and cleanly. 

If you implement agile engineering practices without Scrum, you run the risk of ending up with a great running piece of software that is useful to no one. 

On the other hand, implementing cargo-cult Scrum without the agile engineering practices and you end up (especially in a fortune 500 company) being steered in the right direction, but with your development practices coming to a dead halt because you have code that can not keep up with the changes in requirements.


If you are trying to do Scrum, make sure that you hire some agile engineering coaches, or else you may find your deveolpment engines grinding to a dead halt in the middle of the open ocean.

Posted on Tuesday, February 22, 2011 1:00 AM Contracting , Agile Development , Leadership , Scrum | Back to top

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