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Dave Thomas, one of the developers who helped develop the Agile software development methodology, made waves when he declared that Agile is officially dead. His declaration sent shockwaves through the development community, leaving many to speculate whether Agile has officially reached its peak.

The Agile Death Rattle

According to Thomas, Agile “became a marketing term, co-opted to improve sales like the words ‘eco and natural.’” As the original Agile manifesto gained traction in the market, the word “agile” began getting tacked onto hordes of blog posts, marketing promotions and products, diluting the original message and aim of the process. Thomas continued, “a word that is abused in this way becomes useless—it stops having meaning as it transitions into a brand.”

People who had become fatigued of hearing about “Agile” quickly pounced on Thomas’s declaration. Many people agreed that Agile was dead. They said that the methodology wasn’t matching the needs of enterprises and that attempts to scale Agile were abject failures.

Other people cited the fact that Agile creates serious fiduciary headaches because no one knows exactly what an application will do until it’s built, making it impossible to estimate that application’s impact on operations. This makes it challenging to estimate ROI and essentially requires leadership to write blank checks with no certainty of return.

Too Soon To Officially Declare Death

Agile isn’t actually dead in the water. However, when it comes to enterprise operations, agile is just hanging on to life. However, success in today’s market is all about speed, and agile still facilities that speed. Agile is necessary to keep up in a world of rapid releases, test-and-learn paradigms, minimum viable product, continuous delivery and DevOps. Agile can allow organizations to be more self-organized and less siloed, without vastly restructuring operations.

To remain competitive, companies will need to stay plugged into rapid-release processes like Agile. Developers need to be able to release software updates quickly and frequently and address feedback efficiently in order to remain relevant. And so far, nothing has stepped up to deliver on those needs like Agile. So, while Agile is not perfect, there is still real value in the process. The key is to understand which projects it can be applied to, and which projects can survive and thrive with a different approach.

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