In one of the recent episodes of Dilbert agile gets mentioned (not for the first time). One of my friends said that “Dilbert turned against us” but in fact I think this cartoon very pointedly shows how much a typical manager (Pointy-Haired Boss) knows about agile. Managers like the PHB from Dilbert cartoons do exists in large corporations for real, I’ve met some. But much more managers, accustomed to reporting, WBSs, Gantts, PMSs, 3 months requirements analysis, specifications documents, acceptance documents etc. do think that getting rid of all that means complete chaos and lack of all rules.

That the rules are scaled down it doesn’t mean they don’t work. In fact, rules have a much higher chance of working if there is just a few of them, not a whole 200 pages handbook. Same goes for documentation and almost everything else. Things have to be scaled down so that the rules and information are manageable to humans.

Take Scrum – it is just three roles (the Team, the Product Owner, the Scrum Master), two lists (the Product Backlog and the Sprint Backlog) and three meetings (the Sprint Planning, the Daily Scrum and the Sprint Review). That’s all, not much to tweak around, simple to introduce and then follow. Same goes for XP – simple ideas, easy to understand directions.

But simple doesn’t mean easy. Building unit tests for everything also does require labor, though most who don’t know agile regrettably don’t associate it with extensive testing. Same about management -Scrum may be simple but being a Scrum Master is a demanding work – and requiring certain personality traits PHBs usually don’t have.

This ignorance about agile I’m sure leads to many failed projects when people don’t read up, don’t learn and really believe agile is the same as “cowboy coding”.  This gives agile a bad name, but I’m sure this will change with time.