So I recently read an interesting article on the decline and fall of the agilists. I have to admit that it was an interesting read and it was not what I was expecting at all. I had decided on clicking the link that I was heading to read an article that was lambasting agile as a whole, and in specific the people who supposedly support and enable people to be agile in their enterprise. What I got was different. What I got was a point of view on people being far to rigid in their ideology, the agilists, the evangelists (supposedly) of the agile software development 'movement'. The point of view was decisive and accurate in my opinion, but not because agile is anything specifically different or the people who support it are any different - but because what I get out of it is an equation of an agilist to a terrorist or other extreamist.
Becoming an avid agile supporter
Over the years I have become a rather avid supporter of the agile methodologies. Scrum, XP and a few others have become the ways and methods that I would naturally choose to use when I attempt to do software development. These mthods are also the way in which I would hope that the business that I work for would choose to do their software development work. This of course is not always the case. Like most people I have worked for companies that have waterfall methodologies or other ways to do software development. These methods in some ways work for the companies that have adopted them. Sometimes they work very very well for those companies. They get alot done with their waterfall systems and feel that they have accomplished alot. It is my beliefe that even those companies could get more out of using agile methods. This makes me a supporter of agile, but it doesn't yet make me an agilist. It means that I would choose to attempt to talk the people I work with into giving agile methods a try - But I am not going to dictate that they need to do XP to be agile. More it is to describe that I am going to attempt to let people know what I have seen work in other places using my experience to try and allow a change to occur in the company. One that hopfully will get them to recognize a benefit.
The agilist in hiding
Does the desire to only use Agile methods make me an agilst. Possibly, but what I think differentiates me from the agilsts that are pointed out in the article is that I don't support doing agile in one set and unchanging way. One of the tenants of the agile movement is that the process has to be about the 'people' involved - the individuals and interactions before the processes and tools. You always have to start with the people. You have to look at what the people do, see how they move day to day and attempt to help them along a path. as an agilst I attempt to provide guidance and support for any given company finding their 'own' path. In a number of cases these choices will be what I recommend - but in a great number they will not. These other company(s) will need help finding their own path. This is when the agilist must become a person that helps to maintain the 'spirit' of the manifesto... attempts to provide guidance for the decision making process rather then dictating that things be done in a specific way.
Being an agilst is all about the philosophy
Being an agilist is all about the philsophy held - its all about the people involved. Its about nurturing the good processes and tools in support of the people and interactions. Being an agilist is not dictating that it must be some 'ONE MAGIC' way. People that attempt to make being agile all about being one specific way are looking for a magic bullet (a silver one perhaps). In the end however we all know there isn't one. Development of software is sufficently chaotic that having bumpers is better then knowing the one true path. Having guidlines rather then mandates... having a person who is willing to guide rather then dictate can be helpful. The aim is to move forward the best way we know how given the situation, I personally believe that being an agile organization is important to 'grow' how software is developed. I am an agilist in my heart, but certainly not the one that Mr. Appelo describes. I hope never to fall into that trap and become a cult leader for agile.