I still can’t get over the recent decision by the PMI to introduce yet another, Agile PM, certification.
It is not that I reject the concept of certifications. I am a PMP and I respect the value proposition that such certifications project. What I am concerned about is the perception that Agile is the solution to our ailing software development projects. Not that I under value the contribution that Agile has made to software development, but, let’s be honest about it, with Agile or without it, we are still some way off the yellow brick road.
In the mid 1990’s I worked on software projects that used the RAD approach. RAD, as of Rapid Application Development, was developed in 1991 by James Martin (the guru of Information Engineering), and introduced the concept of iterative development through the introduction of quick prototypes; heavily predicated on constant and close involvement of relevant business owners.
In the mid 1990’s no one was cynical enough to suggest that a whole project management approach needs to be developed and wrapped around RAD. It was understood that RAD is just one of a number of software development approaches, and as such, can be implemented within traditional project management disciplines.
So why are things different in 2011?
Ok, I’m going to be slightly wild here, and highly speculative.
The apparent adoption of Agile principles seems to coincide with the increased ratio of Gen ‘X’ and ‘Y’ in the work force. It is not difficult to see why, especially for our colleagues who are in the Gen ‘Y’ classification, the social and collaborative aspects of Agile will seem like a natural fit.
Individuals and interactions over processes and tools
Working software over comprehensive documentation
Customer collaboration over contract negotiation
Responding to change over following a plan
Now let this the above statements permeate for a second in your mind, and answer the following question: What Generation bears the prejudicial personality most likely to grasp and develop an affiliation with the statements above.
- Baby Boomers? – Unlikely!
- Generation X? – Yes, but only partially
- Generation Y?- Oh Yes!!!
Without conducting any research, and I’m afraid the supporting data is not (yet) there, I’m happy to conclude that the ‘move’ to Agile is a reflection of our time. Gen ‘Y’ is known to exhibit strong social-media and collaborative needs. This is not a matter of good or bad, it is rather a sociological observation. And as we re-think and digest this observation we need to remember that this phenomena on its own, is not a good enough reason to go the Agile way. Like the RAD of the 1990’s, the decision for adopting a methodology needs to be done based on its objective merits, not based on the whims of those proposing it.
Think about it!