Someone recently asked me a really good question: what worries or concerns you about Agile? There’s no wrong answer, except maybe “everything” or “nothing.”
One of my concerns is the mis-application of the Agile Manifesto.
“Working software over comprehensive documentation”
This doesn’t mean that all documentation is taboo. It’s about documenting the right things at the right time, because documentation is a part of delivering working software. Collaboration and communication between team members and entire teams is crucial to success and documenting how the hell you built a feature or ran a test should be a part of the Definition of Done.
If you’re on my scrum team, don’t tell me “That’s so not Agile” when I ask if you’ve documented the parameters for your new feature. Telling someone how to use your product or how it works is part of your job.
“Responding to change over following a plan”
This is not an excuse to inflict an infinite amount of churn on a team. Any agile methodology has boundaries to provide stability, whether it’s limiting WIP in Kanban or timeboxes and commits in Scrum. Respect them or fail.
“Individuals and interactions over processes and tools”
This does not mean that process is antithetical to agile. Chaos != agile. Your sticky notes and sharpies – and your brain – are tools just like any of the various software programs out there. “Just let me do the work!! Don’t make me use a tool!” is something I hear regularly, but when you have multiple teams, cross dependencies, and complex (and sometimes shared) code bases, things like planning and forethought are crucial.
Tools like any of the number of agile project management SaaS offerings out there may add some additional work (I avoid editing active workflows like the plague) but they’re invaluable.
“Customer collaboration over contract negotiation”
This one I don’t have much insight into, except to say that demos to customers every sprint seems to cover a multitude of potentially missed deliverables. Nothing in my experience to argue about here.