Thursday, December 07, 2006

Agile Development -or- How to name a religion

Upon reading the normal set of useless arguments about Agile development (I'm not implying a side here actually, just saying the arguments just seem to go on and on), I've noticed how actually brilliant the naming of "Agile Development" really is.

It seems like it just makes sense right - I mean, "Our development cycle is nimble, quick, and Agile". But the real brilliance is *not* in the positive. Its really more brilliant in the negative.

What I mean is simply this. If someone asks you if you're doing Agile, and you aren't - you are now "not agile". I mean - your 4 person dev team could turn on a dime but follow none of the agile development principles, and YOU are the one termed "not agile" over some large team that has a standup meeting once a day.

This is really smart. If you're not with us, you're "not us". This can be extrapolated if you were deciding what to name a new religion. For example, a good candidate would be to name a new religion "Church of the Good Persons" where its members are indeed "good persons".

Then of course, if you are not in that religion you are implicitly "not a good person".

"Fred, I'd like you to meet Bob. Bob isn't a good person, but I'm trying to convince him to become a good person. Isn't that right Bob?"
"I, um, er...."

Fariggin awesome.

You're either with us or you're against us. And your development team is indeed either agile or ya know, its not.


Alfred said...

Another example will be "not Getting Real" from 37signals

Alex Zorach said...

This is really interesting. I am actually part of a small group of people in the process of searching for a name for a new religion. One of the people in our group found this blog post and shared it with me as a joke!

Your post captures the essence of what is probably the #1 most important thing that we do not want to do in choosing a name. We actually discussed this at our meetings, when talking about a name.

One of the essential aspects of our belief system is to avoid the attaching of subjective negative labels (including by implication) to people and groups of people. This is related to (and flows from) a core belief we agreed upon, which is that all people are valuable, and that when people or a group of people are in a healthy mindset, they treat all people with respect.

It sounds so common sense, but when you think on it you realize how many different things out there in our world, whether religious groups, software development strategies, corporations, have chosen names that implicitly insult people who are not members or choose not to participate / use a technique / buy a product / etc. Most businesspeople would probably agree that a basic rule of how to be successful and retain customers is to never insult your customers. It makes me realize how unaware people are of how they use language, and how to actually be fully respectful of other people!