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Roundtable: What the [bleep] does 'Agile' mean?

Facilitated (refereed?) by Dave Nave

Think of the customers most in need of our services. If they understood more of what we offer, they would already do it.  They don't and call for help.  Waves of process improvement champions respond, with competing proposals that use identical terms to mean different things and different terms to mean the same thing.  "Agile" is one. The confusion leaves the potential customer unprepared to select from our strategies, as unprepared as a boy scout flag football coach is to slow down a NFL offense.  Or like a lonely seaside sergeant in foxhole who is to stop the Marine Corps from landing on his beach. And this is before we throw any Japanese and Welsh terms at the customer!  We have our code words, just like the NFL offense or the Marines. Some code words simplify understanding, others prevent it.  Many do both. A confused customer controls the cash, can prevent our sale, reject the value we offer and remain in need of our services.

Let's see if we can compare and clarify basic strategic flavors of software process improvement strategies, terms and advantages, relationships, maybe even nuances and implications.  This drives us toward the fundamentals our customer can experience. Still, in this short evening of conversation, oversimplification is the reality we will have to accept, even while hearing passionately expressed beliefs.

Dave Nave

Dave Nave is an experienced Management Engineer with notable process improvement success. In 2002 he published a comparison of three improvement methodologies that is being referenced to this day. He is eager to hear agile described in common terms, sans those 'TM' words.  While asking local groups, Dave found spirited discussions about defining Agile, even as we sell what sounds like the same thing. He knows we are onto something important, but prefers it explained in a more basic business management language.

Dave brings to the discussion an eight-column table of seven improvement methodologies, compared on eleven categories. The eighth column is blank, except for the title: "Agile".