Doese Agile mean “Fast”?

In software project management, more and more teams start to practice Agile in the project execution, Scrum, XP, FDD and etc. But, what’s the Agile mean when we say we are using Agile process? Is it mean that the process will be faster than traditional way with higher productivity? Many of new practitioners will put equal mark between Agile and Fast. Obviously there are some misunderstandings. It might because of we call it “Agile” :-)

So, let’s go through Agile Manifesto and guide principles first.

Manifesto

  • Individuals and Interactions over Processes and Tools
  • Working Software over Comprehensive Documentation
  • Customer Collaboration over Contract Negotiation
  • Responding to Change over Following a Plan

Guide Principles

  • Welcome changing requirements
  • Deliver working software frequently
  • Business people and developers must work together
  • Build projects around motivated individuals
  • Face-to-face conversation
  • Working software is the primary measure of progress
  • Sustainable development
  • Continuous attention to technical excellence and good design
  • Simplicity is essential
  • Self-organizing teams
  • Regularly review and adjustment

Based on all of those introduction, you can find words like "Welcome changing, frequently, excellence" and etc. But you cannot find any words mentioned faster. So, what’s Agile meaning? I found a tag cloud from internet that gives a very clear answer.

Agile-principle-word-cloud

What agile  really care is about “Working Software”. That should include two aspects

  1. The software should provide the functionals that users want to have
  2. The software should have high enough quality that users can use it without problems

Above two, make up “Customer Value”. So, as my personal view of point, Agile is really focus on the value but not speed. To achive that, we need to

  1. Deliver  customer value early and frequently
  2. Respond to changes fast

Someone may ask, does “Deliver early” mean faster? Actually, not exactly. Agile team will focus on deliver the highest value funtionals to customers with high quality. For a matual team, if the team was experienced on Agile pracitices, like TDD, CI and etc., and related technologies and domain knowledge, it is possbile for them to have high productivity as well. Like ski, if we have high ski skills, we may move very fast. Otherwise we will fall down and even being hurted. It is same for an agile team. If the team is chasing the high productivity but miss the delivery quality from the beginning, the quality issues will be accumulated and sooner or later, the team will be slown down because they need to fix those issues before they can continue move forward. The team will feel difficult to have stable pace of each iteration. They will just like a low-skilled ski person to rush from the top of mountain, and will be very fast at the beginning, but fall down soon when they meet some obstacles on the way.

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