Main image of article Is Agile Development a Failing Concept?

Many development teams have embraced Agile as the ideal method for software development, relying on cross-functional teams and adaptive planning to see their product through to the finish line. While other teams still stick by traditional processes such as Waterfall, Agile supporters tout their method as especially effective, with more frequent quality checks and an ability to adapt. Agile has its roots in the Agile Manifesto, the product of 17 software developers coming together in 2001 to talk over development methods. And now one of those developers, Andy Hunt, has taken to his blog to argue that Agile has some serious issues. Specifically, Hunt thinks a lot of developers out there simply aren’t adaptable and curious enough to enact Agile in its ideal form. “Agile methods ask practitioners to think, and frankly, that’s a hard sell,” Hunt wrote. “It is far more comfortable to simply follow what rules are given and claim you’re ‘doing it by the book.’” But Agile, at least in theory, is the antithesis of rigidity and formula. “What happened to the idea of inspect and adapt?” Hunt added. “What happened to the idea of introducing new practices, of evolving our practices to suit the challenges at hand? The canonical agile practices of popular methods have remained essentially unchanged for over a decade.” The blog posting offers a way to power out of the rut, however, and it centers on a method that Hunt refers to as GROWS, or Growing Real-World Oriented Working Systems. In other words, software grows and changes based on real-world feedback and actual evidence, until it reaches a state in which it actually works. Hunt advocates the use of the Dreyfus Skill Model within this framework, as a way of on-ramping less-experienced developers while allowing their veteran counterparts more flexibility. “Whatever we attempt here has to work for the whole system, not just the developers, not just the managers, not just the testers, not just the users, not just the sponsors,” Hunt concluded. “There is no ‘us’ versus ‘them.’ There is only us.” In broad strokes, GROWS sounds a lot like Agile in its most fundamental form; presumably Hunt’s future postings, which promise to go into more detail, will show how it differs. If Hunt wants the new model to catch on, he may face something of an uphill battle, given Agile’s popularity: Small development teams and massive enterprises have both embraced Agile as a way of working through development, and many companies are actively seeking job candidates capable of operating according to its principles.