So we had our Agile Mythbusters session and it went really well. I was a little concerned that we would present a myth to the audience and there would be no discussion, debate or dialogue, just crickets chirping and tumbleweed rolling through. However, as normal, people were great and we had some good explanation and analysis of the myths.
After a warm up round debating the likelihood of the Calgary Flames making the playoffs (currently theoretically “Plausible”) we got started with “You cannot accurately estimate agile projects”. There was a good discussion about how we estimate agile projects and how in fact the feedback from iterations provides concrete evidence for better estimating. Yet the larger issues with accurately estimating something as intangible as software were highlighted.
We talked about if you changed the phrase from “You cannot accurately estimate agile projects” to “You cannot accurately estimate software projects” people were happier to label it as “Confirmed” so the debate was really about if agile software projects are easier or more difficult to estimate than traditional projects. Anyway, after nearly 30 minutes on the first agile myth we wanted to move on, so we labelled this one "Confirmed" and continued.
“Agile will increase Quality” was the next one and we had some frank discussion about the poor quality agile projects that occur. Like many things “it depends” was the consensus. Clearly there are opportunities for improved quality, but often a lack of discipline prevents these opportunities from occurring. So in the end “Agile will increase Quality” was labelled “Plausible”.
Next up was “Since empowered teams self organize and self-select work, the role of the project manager goes away”. This one was not contentious and several useful lists of project manager roles were generated. Our most unanimous myth decision, “… the role of the PM goes away” was "Busted".
The last myth we debated was “It is very difficult to negotiate contracts for agile work”. This triggered some interesting accounts of contracting and the goals of suppliers and buyers. Many people struggle with agile contracting and are not aware of all the work done in this field. I was looking for a topic for this month’s “Agility Now” newsletter at Gantthead.com so I wrote up an account of agile contracting that may be of interest if this is an issue for you.
Anyway, it was a fun session and thanks to Mike Haden and Janice Aston for facilitating.