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Is Agile Development only for the "pros"

Svend Rost
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Joined: Oct 23, 2002
Posts: 904
I am currently reading a book on Agile project management by Highsmith inwhich we, from time to time, follow a discussion between two PM's (one agile PM, and one comming from a traditional PM world).

I was surprised by the following statement made by "the agile PM" says: "I put the poorest performers to do conformance work - as long as they last".

Is agile development reserved for "high performers".. I havn't read the whole book, so I might be making alot of fuss about nothing.. however, I dont find the above very sympathetic. Although I believe, that most developers are rather smart every company has employees that doesn't perform as well as others. In my book I'd rather try to stimulate the "under performer" and try to raise his/her level of performance.

What's your oppinion?

/Svend Rost
Lasse Koskela
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Joined: Jan 23, 2002
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Hi Svend,
Originally posted by Svend Rost:
I was surprised by the following statement made by "the agile PM" says: "I put the poorest performers to do conformance work - as long as they last". [...] Is agile development reserved for "high performers"?

I'm some thousand kilometers from my bookshelf right now but I have a vague memory of reading that section of the book and, based on this vague recollection, I believe Jim was just trying to make a point about small teams performing better and the productivity difference of programmers.

Agile is by no means "only for high performers." I've personally observed several times that teams start performing better when they transition to an agile process. They most certainly weren't "high performers" while working in different variations of a waterfall.

Originally posted by Svend Rost:
I havn't read the whole book, so I might be making alot of fuss about nothing.. however, I dont find the above very sympathetic. Although I believe, that most developers are rather smart every company has employees that doesn't perform as well as others. In my book I'd rather try to stimulate the "under performer" and try to raise his/her level of performance. [...] What's your oppinion?

If I were dealing with robots, I would throw the badly performing robots to the trash with no remorse and buy better ones. Dealing with people is a different case so I'd probably act differently. My first approach would likely be along the lines of what you're describing--try to raise the under performer's performance.


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Ilja Preuss
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Joined: Jul 11, 2001
Posts: 14112
Without having read the book, I totally agree with what has been said here.

Originally posted by Svend Rost:
I was surprised by the following statement made by "the agile PM" says: "I put the poorest performers to do conformance work - as long as they last".


I'm not sure I'm reading this phrase correctly, but doesn't this conflict with the notion that Agile teams should be self-organizing - that is, that it's the team members who decide who does what, it's not the manager who "puts them to work"?


The soul is dyed the color of its thoughts. Think only on those things that are in line with your principles and can bear the light of day. The content of your character is your choice. Day by day, what you do is who you become. Your integrity is your destiny - it is the light that guides your way. - Heraclitus
Ilja Preuss
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Joined: Jul 11, 2001
Posts: 14112
Without having read the book, I agree with everything said here until now. Additionally:

Originally posted by Svend Rost:

I was surprised by the following statement made by "the agile PM" says: "I put the poorest performers to do conformance work - as long as they last".


I'm not sure I'm reading this correctly, but isn't this also going against the spirits of self-organizing teams - that is, the team members deciding who does what work, instead of the manager assigning work?
JeanLouis Marechaux
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Joined: Nov 12, 2001
Posts: 906
As every task (even non-IT), software development is easier, quicker, better when you have SMEs in your team.
This is also true for Agile
Take the example of Extreme Programming. XP comes from a collaborative work at Chrysler between Kent Beck and Ron Jeffries. Yes, it was a real project success. But how many among us are working daily with guys like K.Beck, R Jeffries, Erich Gamma or Grady Booch ?... hum... not that much.

So yes, your adoption of an Agile methodology will be harder that it was for gurus of the IT industry. But it does not mean you will not succeed.
You will also probably encounter problem they never had, and you never see in the literature. Agile is definitely not a magic bullet. But it is a way to organize your software development. So you will also gain from Agile practices.


/ JeanLouis<br /><i>"software development has been, is, and will remain fundamentally hard" (Grady Booch)</i><br /> <br />Take a look at <a href="http://www.epfwiki.net/wikis/openup/" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">Agile OpenUP</a> in the Eclipse community
Ilja Preuss
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Joined: Jul 11, 2001
Posts: 14112
Originally posted by JeanLouis Marechaux:
So yes, your adoption of an Agile methodology will be harder that it was for gurus of the IT industry.


The question is, of course, whether there is an approach that works better for non-gurus than Agile. I don't know of one.
 
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