Tuesday, May 19, 2009


SCRUM: Agile Practices within large enterprises

Many enterprises are of the belief that they are adopting agile methods and are piloting the notion of SCRUM. Sadly, along with this adoption comes a worst practice. It should not be assumed that new things must be better than old things...

We all understand that pretty much anything and everything is better than waterfall, but that doesn't mean that agile methods done incrementally will have a different outcome. We have to look at waterfall through the lens of whether it works or not while avoiding looking at waterfall through the lens of it being old.

The age of something does not, in general, have any bearing on its quality or correctness. In the case of tradition, assuming that something is correct just because it is considered a tradition is poor reasoning. For example, if the belief that 1 + 1 = 742 were a tradition of a group of people it would hardly follow that it is true.

Another but often ignored lens in which to view things is through the test of time. In some cases people might be assuming that because something has lasted as a tradition or has been around a long time that it is true because it has "passed the test of time." If a person assumes that something must be correct or true simply because it has persisted a long time, then he has committed an appeal to tradition. After all, as history has shown people can persist in accepting false claims for centuries.

However, if a person argues that the claim or thing in question has successfully stood up to challenges and tests for a long period of time then they would not be committing a fallacy. In such cases the claim would be backed by evidence. As an example, the theory that matter is made of subatomic particles has survived numerous tests and challenges over the years so there is a weight of evidence in its favor. The claim is reasonable to accept because of the weight of this evidence and not because the claim is old. Thus, a claim's surviving legitimate challenges and passing valid tests for a long period of time can justify the acceptance of a claim. But mere age or persistence does not warrant accepting a claim.

So, for boneheads who will get it twisted, I am not attacking agile software development. In fact, I am encouraging it as the focus has to be on what works, not on what is new, what others believe, etc...

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