Skip to content

Agile-ish is good enough

At the 85th SPIN meeting, Brad Whittington (@darb) of Motribe gave a presentation "Agile-ish is good enough" or "How much Agile religion is enough?" Brad's talk was short and to the point; the Q&A session afterwards was quite heated, with lots of hands shooting up. Below are my brief notes from his talk and the Q&A.

  • In the beginning there was Waterfall. It was good for people with A-type personalities because of the rigid structures and the feeling of control.
  • When the Agile Manifesto came out in 2001, organisations said they loved it, but took quite a while to actually adopt it.
  • Nowadays, Agile-ish is sort of everywhere. This worries the A-types, so they try and impose processes and structure again, but this can lead to valuing processes and tools over individuals.
  • The backlog is good. You need to keep it organised, well prioritised.
  • Be careful of vanity metrics: charts don't understand broken developers.
  • Planning, estimation points, are guessing, so why use them? Why not just do days?
    • Brains add numbers and make assumptions. Estimating further than the next sprint is pointless because the estimates will be so far off. Studies show that you don't get better at estimation.
    • Help business people understand the backlog and how it works, the fuzzy timelines. Internal vs external stakeholders makes it a bit better. You can be paid for, e.g., 6 months of time, rather than a list of features.
    • Don't create a thermocline of truth. Truth can get mangled as it climbs up the ladder.
  • Brad uses Trello for his boards.
    • It's simple, not opinionated, intuitive, does what you expect. Brad's set-up:
      • Backlog: inbox/idea pool; backlog pit; real important stuff; next up.
      • Working board: scheduled; in progress; testing / verification; done; deployed.
      • Everything else is interactions.
    • It's better than Post-Its for his team because they're distributed, and don't work in the office often.
  • With constant tweaking some things, such as retrospectives, can be left out. The actions and benefits from there can come out naturally from a team. But, do them if you need them.