Kent Beck on the Attitude of Spreading Agile
In the process of catching up with the
extremeprogramming mailing list, I read the following, and found it hit home. It is a reaction to Martin Fowler’s observation that management imposing Agile is rarely successful.
We think that we, as programmers or consultants, have the right to say “We should all be working in an agile way.” Why not a manager or a CEO? What makes that entirely a programmer’s perogative? Agile development is not a process that can only be dictated from the programmer level. I think that this points to an attitude problem with the structure inherent in a company, that money and power are not equally distributed and that process/work style/work culture like many other aspects of company life may not be in your individual control. If you accept company structure, how best to adopt agile process? Programmers like it if it is their idea, but long-term success is dependent on management buy-in, not programmer buy-in. Agile development is not a process that can only be dictated from the programmer level.
While I agree with Martin that imposition from on high rarely succeeds, I suspect it has much to do with the common thread of imposing process (effectively turning it into a defined process—oh, the irony), rather than aligning people to the corresponding goals. I wonder what we could do to help executives feel more comfortable trusting us with their (business) goals?