Where Agile sucks

on Mar 16, 10 • by Alen Zukich • with 5 Comments

Unlike Todd who is this blog’s main Agile expert, I’m pretty new to agile.  I’ve gone through the typical training (CSPO) and all the other good stuff,  so I’m drinking the Kool-aid.  But I thought I would provide my perspective,  now that I’ve been working in an Agile shop for a while and tell you ...

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Unlike Todd who is this blog’s main Agile expert, I’m pretty new to agile.  I’ve gone through the typical training (CSPO) and all the other good stuff,  so I’m drinking the Kool-aid.  But I thought I would provide my perspective,  now that I’ve been working in an Agile shop for a while and tell you what I think really sucks.  I’ve read lots of warnings why Agile can fail and I’ve tried to stay focused on overcoming the hurdles.

Being a product manager, one of the things that is really ringing true to me is where Agile falls flat–working remotely.  Lots of discussions on how much it can suck here, here, here and here.  As part of my job, I travel… lots.  If I’m not at a customer meeting I’m at the next trade show.  This means many design and planning meetings are done remotely.  I end up finding we have developed something different than what was originally discussed or at least what I thought.

This gets frustrating because it has a major impact — all of a sudden as opposed to having that working functionality at the end of the iteration, you are set back by redoing that same work the very next iteration.  About as productive as watching every single sport of the Winter Olympics (I don’t even like figure skating…I swear).

As much as I’m puking all over Agile, I’m still very invested (messy as it is).  Let’s face it, offshore development is a way of life and there are many things people are using to work in this remote context.  Next week I’ll post the opposite side of things and discuss the consequences of working remotely along with the value Agile does give you.

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5 Responses to Where Agile sucks

  1. John Quincy says:

    It’s been my experience that any true development (i.e. more than a toy project like an iPhone app) quickly surfaces all the shortcomings of SCRUM — and there are too many shortcomings to name here.

    This video, although hilarious, has a serious message. It shows why companies are choosing to waste money on Agile:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nvks70PD0Rs

    John

  2. Alen Zukich says:

    Chris, you have hit the nail on the head. Agile does give visibility to this problem much much faster. That is the exact idea of my next post ;)

  3. Chris Bernard says:

    I’ve done a fair amount of PMing remote agile projects. Sounds like you have a fundamental communication problem with your project manager (or maybe you call them the Scrum Master). Care to elaborate on that relationship? :-) Remoteness adds new challenges, but doesn’t explain your problem. Agile highlights this problem much faster than waterfall would. I’d suggest focusing on that problem rather than trying to blame agile.

  4. Shawn Crosby says:

    I’m pretty new to agile too, but I think it answers many problems evident in software projects nowadays. Our team is small and local so I don’t have experiences to share with you on remote agile, but what seems to work for us is to make sure that each sprint has a theme…this way the entire team has part of a shared vision that keeps everyone on track. We usually work with the product owner to come up with stories for a sprint that allows the team to focus on a particular area of the application that isn’t too disjointed…already there have been times when this isn’t possible, but I always search for a common thread up front that gets everyone focussed and moving in the same direction.

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