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Agile isn't always Agile

By  Apr 12, 2010

Topics: SQL Server, Data

I want to make a disclaimer before I dive into this topic – At Microsoft we use all kinds of development methodologies, and I’ve worked in lots of other shops using lots of methodologies. This is one of those “religious” topics like which programming language or database is best, and is bound to generate some heat. But this isn’t pointed towards one particular event or company.

But I really don’t like Agile. In particular, I really don’t like Scrum. Let me explain. Agile is a methodology for developing software that emphasizes adapting to change more so than the traditional “waterfall” method of developing software. Within Agile is a process called a “scrum” meeting. The pitch goes that in this quick, stand-up meeting the people involved in the development project (which should include the DBA, but very often doesn’t) go around the room stating what they are working on, when that will be finished and what is keeping them from getting finished (“blockers”, these are called). Sounds all very non-threatening – we’re just “enabling” the developers to work more efficiently. And that’s what we all want, isn’t it?

Except it doesn’t work. In my experience (and yours might be VERY different) this just turns into a micro-management environment, where devs have to defend their daily work. Of all the work environments I hate the most, micro-management environments are THE worst. I don’t like workign in them, and I don’t like creating them.

The other issue I have with Scrum is that it makes your whole team task-focused. Everyone wants to make sure that they are not the “long pole” in the meeting (meaning that they aren’t the one that gets all the attention) so they only focus on safe, quick tasks. And although you have all of the boxes checked, the project does not go well at all – even when it does finish.

Before you comment (and please do comment) I fully realize that Agile <> Scrum. But in my experience, it sometimes turns into that.

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