Agile Misconceptions

A common misconception about Agile software development is that it is not deadline driven and that it is unstructured. Agile development is, by definition, time-boxed and therefore is extremely deadline driven. The difference is that the deadline is the time box and the end date is calculated (or extrapolated) by average team velocity.

Another misconception is that agile development is undisciplined, or unstructured. In reality, agile is extremely disciplined. However; disciplines tend to be thrown overboard when an organization starts using velocity as a productivity measure to hit a predefined scope, a predefined schedule, and a predefined budget, all of which cannot change. This principle applies to anything, even waterfall.

Another frequent “management” misconception of agile is that it is just “breaking things into small pieces so that you can get more done”. It’s not. It is the ability to adjust to changing requirements, by deferring commitment to the whole and developing incrementally – reprioritizing each iteration.

Finally, to quote the Poppendieck’s, “To move faster, you have to slow down” . In order to increase productivity, you have to work at a teams velocity (the point at which they are most productive), while keeping all “disciplines” (code review, testing, etc) intact and creating a production ready deliverable, at some level of scope, every sprint. This is what the team is capable of producing. Pay attention to it – and schedule accordingly. You cannot dictate velocity.

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