Success comes with its own set of demands. Whether Ken Schwaber likes it or not, 2013 is the year of the “agile market,” and Scrum has reached the boardroom. The software development process Schwaber and Jeff Sutherland first presented at OOPSLA’95 is now the predominant technique used by agile software engineering teams. It faces new growing pains, however, as entire organizations try to adopt it, and new continuous delivery models bring complementary techniques (such as Kanban) to the fore.
Capitalizing on this momentum, Boulder, Colo.-based agile tool vendor Rally Software made an initial public offering in April 2013, and companies such as Atlassian and CollabNet could be next in line to IPO. Ever the “robe-and-sandals Agilista,” to use Microsoft principal program manager Aaron Bjork’s label, Schwaber shakes his head at all this.
“I was at a [Department of Defense] conference back in 2002. The CMMI people and a couple of us from the agile community were on a panel. At that time, CMMI was big, with lots of expense and consultants who would come in and make you Level 2, Level 3, etc. Bill Curtis and Mark Paul said, ‘We don’t think we have any difference in goals from people in the agile community. We all intend to improve the profession of software development,’ ” said Schwaber.
But CMMI had become commercialized, with an explosion of consultants and products. “The moment that happened, the initial purpose was lost. The guys on the panel asked us, ‘How will you cope with it when this happens to the agile community?’ ” Schwaber continued. That moment has arrived, bringing with it methodologists, consultants and vendors. But not without protest.
Scrum.org, Schwaber maintained, has “worked very hard not to come up with a methodology. I have a Scrum methodology that I developed in 2003. It’s very prescriptive: Do this and you’ll be agile. But I put it away. Someone said all these fads run about 10 years, it’s time for the next thing. But Scrum is based on values, like we stated in the Agile Manifesto. If the values take hold, we succeeded.”
#!From revolution to evolution
There’s no question the values have captured the imagination of innovators, entrepreneurs and financiers. Scrum calls teams to be iterative and incremental, to eliminate waste, listen to bottom-up intelligence, inspect and adapt, make people count, and use value-stream mapping.
“The Agile Manifesto applies to all industries. When we read it and its 12 principles, and switch each mention of ‘software’ with ‘customer-visible value,’ we have an elegant methodology that applies to all business,” said Joe Justice, whose day job is being a Scrum consultant for Jeff Sutherland’s Boston-based firm, Scrum Inc.
Justice spends nights and weekends running Wikispeed, an automotive-prototyping company whose volunteers aim to design and build the world’s first 100 miles-per-gallon commuter cars. The project dovetails nicely with his Scrum consulting, with customers such as John Deere coming into the Seattle Wikispeed workshop to build a car for two hours, then asking Justice to fly to India to help its engineers learn Scrum techniques.