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Thursday, July 4, 2013

Reversion to the norm

There seem to be two simultaneous movements going on, both seeming to be contradictory to each other. The first is the growth of agile software development and the corresponding concern in the business analyst community as reflected in the earlier posts and elsewhere. The second seems to be a movement away from "pure agile" (the kind of software development that spurns any business analysis except as done by the developers and any intermediaries at all between the developers and the business and the rest of the organization). 
At first that might seem contradictory. How can we be moving toward agile development and away from it at the same time?  I only observe.  Organizations are renaming their business analysts and other functionaries with agile sounding titles and tasks. Other organizations are moving developers, and former business analysts, into official business analyst roles. Why?
In the first place we are seeing the back end of the adoption curve with organizations stepping up into agile practices and following the preachings of the purists and the books to try to catch up with what these organizations perceive as the path to software development nirvana.  The other trend appears to be followed by the earlier adopters who have tried the pure approach and are now reverting back to a more 'normal' approach.  The natural 'reversion to the mean' that follows any extreme behavior or performance.
Those who have 'reverted' appear to be more 'agile' than they were before their agile excursion and retain many of the agile qualities and practices, but appear to be pulling back from the extreme measures: bringing back professional business analysts as facilitators, administration roles to ease the interaction with the organization, and project management to make multiple project or large project coordination easier.  It seems that pockets of pure agility cannot survive and turning an entire organization that has developed its culture and practices over generations into agile over night as the zealots proselytize just is not working as predicted.  Nor are there major advances in sales, revenue, or profit from the adoption of agile that support the claims. So the way we were becomes the way we are albeit a bit more agile in character and application.