19 February 2007

Beyond agile – where is the next manifesto?

I have been on a quest to research how our design and development team can be more responsive to the marketplace and change. This has lead me to Agile. Specifically, I have been monitoring and participating in an online forums with Agile as the topic. It is as strange a culture as any I have encountered.

The founders of this “Agile Manifesto” still cling to its genesis – now some ten years old. They also seem to get to decide what is agile – as well as what is “Agile”. It is rare to find such a pristine example of arrogance and self-rightousness.

I read an Agile expert’s criticism of design for being “trial and error”, while that seems to be the exact premis underlying everything Agile – try it quick and see if it works.

Apparently, there is nothing better or beyond Agile. This behavior is slightly reminiscent of oh say – the dinosaurs. I however, am not part of the club, so I cannot possibly understand.

For the record, there is plenty about Agile that I like. I like the idea of being more agile and I plan to continue to use many facets of the methodology. There is some really good stuff here. But not being a rote process guy, I do not buy it lock, stock and barrel.

Agile shows only a token look at the potential and power of design and design thinking. I think that is because designers do this better, and these developers need to run this show.

Additionally, I think the state of design (user) research is embryonic. We do not execute research nearly well enough… yet. I do look forward to a time when we have more if it figured out and can then, and only then, start abbreviating and condensing our processes.

I am not likely making agile friends here, but this has got to move forward – with, or without the dinosaurs. Maybe it could be the nimble manifesto. I think it should stay a lower case n.