Timely Feedback – Why Agile Works

faded clock, larry apke

Most folks who know me well know I like to talk.

I especially like the times when I get to speak in front of groups, whether a face-to-face presentation, a small user’s group or 160 on a conference call all over the world (If you have a group and want a passionate speaker – feel free to call on me).

Sometimes my passion provokes long stories, explanations or asides. Lately though when I speak to others about why agile works, I eschew my sometimes verbose ways and reply with two words – “timely feedback”.

These two words refer back to my argument that software development is, as described by Snowden in his Cynefin Model, complex as opposed to complicated. And complexity begs for timely feedback.

Take a look at the most popular Agile processes and practices and you can see why they are effective. They all are merely ways to produce timely feedback.

Daily standup = daily feedback.

Review, retrospective, grooming, planning – all are timely feedback.

What is automated testing on code check in or continuous integration and deployment? Feedback. Pair programming is nothing more than continuous immediate feedback.

Conversely, what is waterfall than a dearth of feedback? Compared to the continuous timely feedback of agile, waterfall is a vast wasteland of opacity.

So next time you are asked why agile works, or why a shorter iteration is better, or why we should do pair programming, or why continuous integration, take the quick route and prove that brevity is indeed the soul of wit and simply say, “Timely feedback”.

Larry Apke

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