Has Agile Become Another Waterfall?

These days there is a lot of talk around the relevance of Agile principles in today’s context. Some people talk about new Agile Menifesto which might make sense today and some even have termed it yet another waterfall already.

To analyse this, first of all it’s important to understand what Agile really means from pragmatic point of view. To me, two things came out prominently which you can sugarcoat with many books, presentation, theories etc. However I think that is the crux of being agile:

  • Inspect and adapt continuously
  • Agile is nothing but pure common sense.

There are reasons against each Scrum practice for instance. Those practices are then combined so that they are formalized to a large number of people for helping them out in the project execution. However that’s not the end. To me that is just the beginning in the journey of being agile. If you understand it, you don’t need to define or redefine the definitions based on time and context. You evolve continuously and at the end still called agile even after a number of years ;-). It’s a lifestyle (way of life) and not yet another commodity. It can never become the next waterfall.

Now the argument comes that though from the outset it looks like that “Common Sense” argument makes a lot of sense but what would you term to those practices in Agile which are counter-intuitive?

As I indicated in the beginning that basic fundamental of Agile is “Inspect and Adapt”. Even if you argue that there were or are some practices which are counter-intuitive, you are not bound to follow them. Whenever something is started with some principles in mind, it is done with the pure intention that these principles will be beneficial for the people. And with the span of time and with our experience, we all know that even with best analysis and with best intentions, some of the things work and some not.

The beauty here is, Agile doesn’t expect you to get stuck just there and call it yet another waterfall. In case something doesn’t work, you are expected to do “Inspect and Adapt” as depending on time and context, entire definitions change. Accordingly the practice also is bound to change. For instance, list of “Good to Great” companies made sense 10 years back but not anymore. So it doesnt mean the book is bad. It was written in a set context and time and for that time it made a lot of sense.

Similarly even after continuous “Inspect and Adapt” for years, the basic definition of what Agile means doesn’t change.

ShriKant Vashishtha is an enterprise Agile Coach, IT strategist, trainer, thinker and hands-on geek. He is passionate towards enterprise Agile transformation, quality aspect of software development including TDD, refactoring, Continuous Delivery, DevOps and Test Automation. He can be reached at vashishtha_sk@yahoo.com.

Posted in Agile
One comment on “Has Agile Become Another Waterfall?
  1. Your post reminds me an article posted by Uncles’s Bob: “What Killed Waterfall Could Kill Agile”.
    It could be summarized by one of his sentence : “the elitism is back, and it’s growing”.


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