Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Is Agile a more humane way of working?

This was the question asked in the Agile Alliance LinkedIn group, and the question was focused on agile vs. other methods. It questioned whether the manifesto itself was written with the human element in mind, or whether it was focused on efficiency and outcome only (the human element being a byproduct). Additional points mentioned the 40 hr work week (as opposed to more) and sustainability.

The first three responses dissappointed me since they were non-answers.
  1. I wasn't there, we can only guess (as if we've never heard the authors speak since then!)
  2. I'm not sure, but it is at least more natural
  3. Self direction creates a perception control and therefore happiness
Not being one to sit idly when there is an obvious answer, I had to state the following:

The 8th principle of the Manifesto - "Agile processes promote sustainable development. The sponsors, developers, and users should be able to maintain a constant pace indefinitely."

BTW, many mature XP teams will peak around 35 hours, not 40. Pairing and TDD is very intense. You get the most around 35 hours, and productivity can start decreasing between 35-40. But this productivity is higher than the prior 45-50 hr weeks. I've both seen this and heard about it from others.
Cesario Ramos chimed in also:
The lean and agile thoughts explicitly make human values to be the center. It promotes an environment where every individual can use its potential for developing itself and its company. An environment where people can be part of a team and can contribute to a higher objective.

So in my opinion, YES, it is a more humane way of working. Even if the intentions of the agile approach are just to make more money.
There is that caveat that every idea can be destroyed and that there are plenty of companies that use Agile to get more hours out of their people. But, when I see this, I tell those that are suffering that their pain is inflicted by people, not by trying agile (and they aren't doing agile)!

1 comment:

  1. Hi - great discussion point I think Agile and its focus on getting people together and communicating really reaches out to a lot of people and satisfies a need you often overlooked at work.

    I also agree that it can be abused though!