Thursday, September 24, 2015

The Manifesto Didn't Start It All

Often it's not the meat of an agile criticism that bothers me, but the revisionism.

I rather like the article by Nick Kolakowski, except for this:

"Agile has its roots in the Agile Manifesto, the product of 17 software developers coming together in 2001 to talk over development methods"

Likewise this by Michael Church:
The “Agile” fad grew up in web consulting, where it had a certain amount of value: 

Not quite.

It got a name and a manifesto then, but it was a gathering of practitioners of "lightweight methods" (and one waterfall guy: Hi Steve) who gathered and wrote the manifest to describe what they had been doing for some time.

All the agile methods of the time had been hammered out in real projects for years.

XP, for example, was begun with the 3C project in 1993 and was being written about extensively in comp.object usenet group well before the web, and before it even had a name.  It was a collection of radical ideas at the time and was hotly contested. That's where I first became aware and peripherally involved in Agile.

Scrum's roots go back to 1986, but it was described in a paper in 1995 by which time it had been in use for a while.

You can learn quite a bit more about the authors, if you want to spent a little more time at the Manifesto site. It is dated (many of the web sites and company affiliations have changed) but you can see where they came from.

So, no, it wasn't invented by methodology salesmen in 2001 at a meeting.  It was not dreamed up out of whole cloth without vetting in real world situations. It wasn't feckless hopeful thinking.

Sometimes critics forget that it began as a real thing, a consolidation of values and principles from real work done by real development teams.

That being said, it's had plenty of time to go wrong.  I'm still hoping we can Take Agile Back.

But I thought I'd help clear up the bad assumption about Agile origins.