Agile vs Fragile: Technical Discipline Matters

Part 10 in a series of 17. To start at the beginning, first read Agile vs Fragile: A Disciplined Approach or an Excuse for Chaos.

Principle nine is all about good design and technical excellence.  One of the biggest challenges facing teams that are attempting to do Agile development is the natural urge to just jump in and start coding based on a lose set of requirements, without any real design.  This is natural, but almost always results in negative impacts to the project timelines, because the team has to go back and do rework when it is discovered that there are flaws in their assumptions.  In true Agile, design is a key component to the success of the project.  Time isn’t wasted; it is saved by design, as it eliminates false starts and rework.  In a Fragile environment, all processes, including design are shunned as time wasters. The team is unable to make the connection between their missteps and the lack of proper planning and design.  In the Fragile world, processes are eliminated and documentation is shunned.Agile technical discipline mattersThis problem with anti-methodology is so prevalent in Fragile teams that the Agile Alliance came out with a statement supporting value added processes. They wanted to be clear that they weren’t against methodology, but were against methodology that didn’t help the team deliver the value the customer was looking for.  This is the key challenge for teams. It is hard to identify the level of process and documentation that helps the entire team (not just developers) deliver the right solution for the customer.  It is sometimes hard for testers to let go of the old documents that they are used to getting, and look for more efficient ways to get the information needed to deliver quality.  I like the concept of healthy criticism.  Everyone should have to prove that the process or document they are requesting is necessary. If they can’t defend how having the document or process helps them be successful; and more importantly how that without the it they will fail, then the process or document should be eliminated.  Yes this from a quality leader!  Process for the sake of process is waste! Process that drives efficiency and effectiveness is essential.

In the next installment of the blog we will talk about the 10th Agile principle. In the meantime…Keep on testing!

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Brian Copeland

About Brian Copeland (19 articles)

With over 25 years of senior level experience in the software development industry specializing in organizational transformation and development, Brian has been instrumental in the testing of critical business systems, from mission critical applications to commercial software. Mr. Copeland’s career has included 10 years as the Test Operations Manager for the Titan II, 34D, IVA, and IVB programs, managing both flight and ground software-testing facilities for Lockheed Martin. Mr. Copeland also served as the Sr. Manager of Quality Assurance for the shared services of Deloitte & Touché, LLP. His diverse experiences range across the aerospace, medical device, title insurance, legal services software, big four accounting firm, and banking industries. Brian led the global testing organization for The Nielsen Company, overseeing the successful transformation of the testing function made up of over 750 testing associates. Mr. Copeland has been a key-note speaker at the International Business Forum, and has been a featured speaker at HP Software Universe. Brian is a past president of the greater Cincinnati International Institute of Business Analysts (IIBA), and holds an ITIL v3.0 Foundations and RCV certifications.