Agile Development

Agile development is amazing or horrible depending on who you talk to! But this is because its original intent has been hijacked. Being agile is a good idea at its core.

People generally agree that software development can be expensive. So many businesses want to predict development costs before they invest in a product. If only it were that simple.

FAKE Agile is easy to sell…

Unfortunately, shady folks in the software industry pander to this desire for certainty. They know it’s easier to work with management when you don’t ask them to change. So they peddle around a compromised message for what agile development really takes. One that lets founders and investors believe they’re agile – with none of the benefits.

When budgeted to cost estimates, development is actually more expensive. This often causes products to generate less revenue. The industry needs methods that are more successful at delivering profitable software.

Agile development requires humility

Companies must change how they invest in software development before these more successful methods can be realized. But people in positions of power aren’t always eager to try things contrary to their experience. Regardless, we must convince them they can’t predict everything the customer will want (or the true cost of the product) up-front. Otherwise agile development won’t really benefit them.

When up-front estimation is done, software developers feel the pressure. They have to work overtime when projects inevitably go over schedule. 😠 Do you “hate agile” or are you on a team with people who do? This is usually the reason why.

Agile development teaches you what customers pay for

Agile development helps software teams spend less money before getting a return on investment when done correctly. But teams need to budget without “locking them in” to a fixed scope.

Instead of trying to determine costs, businesses must estimate the market opportunity first. This answers the question: how much revenue would we generate if we deliver this to our customers? Armed with this information they can decide: “how much are we willing to spend to pursue that revenue”?

Agile development won’t work with a fixed budget

This offers a big advantage over budgeting a traditional waterfall (or fake agile) project. It frees the team to spend the budget over a period of time (say a year) without tracking it to a schedule. Instead they deliver tiny ideas to their customer regularly. They gather feedback about what customers think. And they change their ideas until customers will pay for them. In essence they discover the most successful product.

Unfortunately doing this requires courage many investors and founders of software companies don’t have. They would rather believe the lie that they can predict costs. Even if they could discover more profitable features driven by customer feedback.

So they fall back into thinking they can forecast software development like most other industries. When this happens, teams often follow all the typical agile processes (Scrum or Kanban, DevOps, Continuous Delivery etc.) – but they miss out on the biggest benefits!

True agile development is RARE

Much of my career has been spent educating IT consulting clients on the benefits of truly agile development. But old habits die hard. Agile development isn’t about getting work done faster. It’s about delivering the right thing to customers! Investing less at a time, releasing more often, and being able to quickly change direction makes this possible.


All Content About Agile Development


Woody Zuill on Mob Programming and Influencing Change
March 12, 2019  |  1:08:10  |  

Woody Zuill, the leading voice in our industry around the concept of Mob Programming, joins me to talk about how it produces better developer teamwork.

How Agile Teams Grow Toxic! Ep. 4 Commitments
March 8, 2019  |  25:03  |  

Does it ever feel like you’d get so much more done if it weren’t for how much work people have you do on agile teams to make commitments?

How Agile Teams Grow Toxic! Ep. 3 Forecasting
February 26, 2019  |  18:12  |  

In working with many teams and companies, when developers are frustrated on their agile project – it’s often forecasting that’s the culprit.

How Agile Teams Grow Toxic! Ep. 2 Hiring Talent
February 21, 2019  |  25:11  |  

To keep an agile team from becoming toxic, you should know how the background of the founders of the company impacts hiring.

How Agile Teams Grow Toxic! Ep. 1 Founder Values
February 15, 2019  |  14:20  |  

The core values, or motivation for starting the software company that the founders have can keep an agile team from becoming toxic.

I Quit My Software Project To Get Healthy!
February 12, 2019  |  19:34  |  

Have you ever had to quit a good software project…because you figured out you weren’t going to be successful in your role? I did – here’s the story.

Scrum Got 3 People Fired From A Software Project!
July 20, 2018  |  11:37  |  

Blame-shifting and improper application of scrum got people fired on a software project I was on where the client was inexperienced with agile.

John Cutler on Agile Skepticism and Developer Impact
June 22, 2018  |  45:26  |  

John Cutler is an experienced Product Manager, writer, and consultant. I interviewed him about agile industry dogma – and where software culture is headed.

Can User Stories Make Software Projects Late?
June 19, 2018  |  6:57  |  

Let me help you avoid some bad advice I see out there about what user stories are and how they can help (or hurt) you.

We Were Hired For A Hidden Agenda
June 15, 2018  |  7:49  |  

Ever been on a software development project where one team is putting pressure on another because of a hidden agenda? I was, and things got interesting…

Should You Really Measure Progress On A Software Project?
June 12, 2018  |  7:55  |  

You can help a company profit more with the software they build by showing them the right things to measure – but expect some resistance on your project…

Scrum Is The “Motor” Of Your Project, But Who’s Steering?
June 5, 2018  |  8:57  |  

When talking about the differences between scrum (or kanban) and agile development, the motor and steering wheel of a car can be a useful analogy.

Spot A Fake Agile Team In Under 7 Minutes!
May 22, 2018  |  6:33  |  

It’s always been popular to tell people how they’re “doing it wrong” and agile software development is just as easy to call “fake”.

Iain Lowe on Software Estimation and Agile Dogma
May 19, 2018  |  1:10:42  |  

Iain Lowe is an experienced software developer and manager based out of Montreal, Canada who I interviewed about healthy development topics.

A Tale Of Software Development Culture Change – Gone Wrong!
May 18, 2018  |  15:28  |  

Let me tell you a story about one of the weirder software projects I’ve been on – and how trying to change the culture went wrong.

Daily Scrum Meeting: A Status Meeting In Disguise?
May 1, 2018  |  14:31  |  

Does it ever feel like the daily scrum meeting is really just another status meeting in disguise? Get help in this episode of healthy software developer!

7 Common Agile Development FAILS
April 6, 2018  |  12:56  |  

In working with over 30 companies, I’ve seen 7 common agile software development fails that have little to do with whether you’re using scrum or kanban.

Impact Mapping: What’s Your Software Development Worth?
March 20, 2018  |  11:48  |  

If you’ve ever been on a software project and wondered: “what’s the impact of the work I’m doing?”, impact mapping will help you immensely.

How A Business Model Canvas Helps Agile Teams
March 17, 2018  |  16:35  |  

If you’ve ever thought “who came up with these ideas?”, you probably need a business model canvas on your agile development team.

Caffeine Makes It Harder To Be Agile!
March 6, 2018  |  21:30  |  

On a project that’s truly agile, most people need extra patience. This doesn’t help if everyone’s cramming caffeine throughoug the day!

An Agile Budget Keeps You From Being A Code Monkey
March 1, 2018  |  20:24  |  

An agile budget is a major key to healthy software development company culture – and careers! Budgeting is something we don’t pay attention to enough.

Is Planning Poker Safe On Your Team?
February 27, 2018  |  12:18  |  

Planning poker might be just what your team needs – but depending on the culture it can also cause big problems.

The Secret of Scrum Nobody Talks About
February 21, 2018  |  7:16  |  

Too many companies and agile coaches keep the secret of scrum from people! Without understanding WHY to use scrum – misery often results.

Can You Be Agile – When Your Company Isn’t?
January 22, 2018  |  17:25  |  

It’s human nature that causes digital transformations to fail. I spent most of my career trying to help companies be agile.

How Failure Produces BETTER Software Projects!
September 10, 2017  |  35:48  |  

A team that learns from software project failure produces better software – when you plan to exploit this ability.

The Journey To Cross Functional Development Teams
July 25, 2017  |  20:00  |  

Cross functional teams get people with different disciplines to work together better when developing software.

Scrum Vs Kanban – How Do They Help You Be More Lean In 2020?
July 7, 2017  |  38:35  |  

Embarking on the journey to let customers lead YOU to the most profitable solutions? You’ll probably need to decide between the two most popular ways agile teams work, and I’m here to help you make that decision.

Agile Project Management – Is It Stopping You From Being Agile?
July 4, 2017  |  15:47  |  

If your team is pursuing agile but it doesn’t feel like it lives up to the industry hype, confusion about agile project management may be the culprit.

Lean Software Development – It’s About Uncertainty
July 3, 2017  |  13:34  |  

Your software team can avoid becoming irrelevant in today’s shifting technology market by investing in and building software differently.