Lesson 08: What is Agile?
So, what is Agile?
- 00:05 – Welcome to the second iteration of the course where we’re going to talk about the concepts behind the Agile methods and frameworks.
- 00:15 – It’s very important for us because when you have the correct understanding, it will help you a lot in having a much better project.
- 00:25 – Nowadays when you ask people what they mean by Agile, you receive really, really strange answers.
- 00:32 – Some people define Agile as having collaboration and daily meetings and self-organized teams, but that’s not enough because these things can exist in every type of project.
- 00:47 – They don’t really distinguish Agile from the opposite, which we will talk about.
- 00:53 – Some people say that, “No, these are not definitions for Agile. Agile is just a mindset.” What does it mean, to say that Agile is a mindset? Agile has a mindset or needs a mindset, but saying that Agile IS a mindset, that’s not really different from not answering the question, but anyway, let’s get back to this. It’s all about the product, alright?
- 01:20 – In the beginning of the project, when you want to start working, one alternative, which is not Agile, is to think about the expectations, which are really not clear in the beginning of the project.
- 01:37 – You don’t know exactly what is expected from the project, but one way of handling that is to keep talking to the customer, to the end-users, investigating the market, doing every type of work to finally come up with a clearer understanding of the expectations, and that is done in the beginning of the project, and when you have that clearer understanding of the expectations, then you think about a product that can satisfy those expectations, and when you have that product design, you can also plan how you can create that product.
- 02:19 – So, you see that everything is done upfront, the design, the plan, and then throughout the project, your goal is to follow this plan, which never happens ideally.
- 02:30 – You always have some deviations and that’s fine.
- 02:33 – You will try to recover from those deviations, get back on track, and create the product that you want.
- 02:42 – This is fine for many types of projects. For example, if you want to build a building or a bridge or build a satellite and send it to the skies, to space, this is fine and this is probably the only way you can do it and succeed, but for some projects, when you do it like that and you deliver the product, then you see that, oh, the expectations were different, and that happens because, as it turns out, the customer cannot really know what they want when it comes to IT projects and they only know it when you give them a product that really works, and here the product is created at the end and that’s a problem.
- 03:34 – Now, what can we do instead of that?
- 03:38 – The other alternative is when we are facing these unclear expectations, instead of trying and forcing it to be more precise, we will just think about the next step that we can do, the simplest type of product that we can create.
- 03:57 – We choose one of the alternatives, we create a very simple increment of the product, and show it to the customer because that was the problem to begin with.
- 04:09 – They have to see the product to make their expectations clearer for you.
- 04:15 – When you show them the increment, you will have a better understanding of the expectations, and then you’ll think about the next step.
- 04:25 – Among all the alternatives, you will pick the one that seems to be the best, create another increment, use that increment to generate feedback and have a better understanding of the expectations, and you go on like that. You go on and on and on until you have the product that really satisfies the expectations of your customer.
- 04:49 – So, these are the two different ways we can use to develop a product.
- 04:55 – The first one is called Predictive and the second one is Adaptive because in the first alternative, we try to predict everything upfront or we have to predict everything upfront, think of the satellite, but in the second alternative, we don’t predict everything upfront.
- 05:17 – We just go on, create things in small steps, and adapt to the feedback that we receive from the environment.
- 05:27 – So, Predictive, Adaptive. These are the more technical terms that we can use.
- 05:34 – Outside the context of people who are fighting over things or over-excited about things that they believe to be new, these are …
- 05:44 – Alright. So, you can guess, which of these is Agile.
- 05:50 – Agile is a term that we can use to refer to Adaptive systems.
- 05:55 – To any framework or methodology that creates the product based on Ada– based on an Adaptive system.
- 06:04 – That’s called Agile.
- 06:07 – And people in the Agile community have a word that used to refer to the Predictive systems.
- 06:15 – That word is Waterfall, but I don’t like it because nowadays it works more like a curse word, even though Predictive systems are really, really useful for many types of project, and also we don’t use the word Waterfall outside the IT community. You never say that, “Okay, how are you going to build this building?” and the other person says, “Of course, we’re going to use the Waterfall approach.” They’ve never heard of that word. This is only in the IT community. Almost.
- 06:47 – Alright. So, this was the real concept behind Agile, and in the next lesson, I’m going to approach the same thing from a different perspective to create a better understanding, and then we will move on with some practical aspects.
- Predictive systems are dependent on upfront plans. What drives adaptive projects instead of upfront plans?
Optional Extra Activities
- When was the word “waterfall” coined for the meaning that it has in this context?
- Another name used for predictive systems is plan-driven. Look it up and see what you find about it.
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