Thursday 25 June 2015

Agile methodologies are just tools

Agile methodologies (XP, Scrum, Kanban, DSDM, Crystal, etc) are for the most part made of really simple tools, so simple in fact that anybody could be told about them and start using them almost immediately

However, in my post agile isn't I said

even if you are doing everything a methodology says you should do doesn't necessarily make you agile.

I said this because the various methodologies are really just a bunch of tools designed to help you with your work, but tools alone won't make you agile.

A comparision

I have a friend who is a master carpenter, his toolbox contains many of the tools I have in my garage, and whilst I can use my tools my results are never as good as his. The reason for this is he has years of experience and a passion for working with wood, not only can he pick the best tool for the task at hand but understands how best to use that tool to get the result he wants. Combine this with his knowledge of wood, techniques for working with wood (joints, cuts, etc) and he will always be better at working with wood than I am.

I could practice with my tools and gain insight into how best to use them and which one to chose but it wouldn't make me a master carpenter, for that I also need the other knowledge my friend has about wood and techniques for working with wood.

Could I learn this? of course but from seeing my friend work and talking to him I can see its not something you learn out of a book, you do it by practice and feedback from more experienced people.

How's this relate to agile then?

As I mentioned before agile methodologies are made up of what are really simple practices and people read books, blogs or attend a 2 day course and belive that they understand how to use these practices.

However, this is no different to me having a bunch of tools in my garage, I know what they are and I have a basic idea of how to use them but I'm not going to get the best results.

This brings me back to my quote from my earlier post, unfortunately a lot of agile implementations out there are done by people who only have the tools they have no passion for it and haven't tried to learn more about not only the practices they follow but agile itself, leading to some of the nightmares you hear about agile in the work place.

It takes time, experience and practice to take these simple tools and understand how best to use them to get the most out of them, you need to spend time listening to other experienced practioners, talking to them, asking questions, etc.

Although my post Agile is... outlines some of the concepts underlying agile, at its heart its about people and tools will only help they won't do the work for you.

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