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Agile – The end of the beginning

by David Norton  |  August 26, 2009  |  4 Comments

“Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. but it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.”  When Winston Churchill spoke those words in 1942 he was talking about a turning point in WW2, I am talking about a turning point in agile development.

In my last blog I mentioned that agile has reached its tipping point. My internal indicators – inquiry rate, request for agile workshops, agile vendor briefings and adoption metrics have all shot of the chart. And external indicators, books, blogs, and my personal favorite, pub conversation – all indicate agile is now mainstream. 

But that’s only half the story. It’s not simply a mater of greater XP or Scrum adoption. IT organizations are applying Lean and agile practices to their whole SDLC including, architecture, PMO, maintenance and operations.  It’s no longer small collocated teams but large distributed projects, mission critical solution and even non IT. For example this week at the Agile 2009 conference I have meet people using Scrum in sales and market, legal departments and to support venture capital funding decisions.   

My attendance at Agile 2009 has confirmed my view we have reached a major mile stone. Dr Alistair Cockburn keynote on Tuesday entitled “I Come to Bury Agile, Not to Praise It” was both dramatic and thought provoking. The drama was in the form of a lone bagpiper playing “Amazing Grace” at the start of the presentation followed by Alistair reciting a modified version of “Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears” from Shakespeare Julius Caesar.

“I come to bury Agile, not to praise it;

            The evil methods do lives after them,
            The good is oft interred with their bones,
            So let it be with Agile.”

Alistair went on to say software engineering in the 21st century will use craft, cooperative game, lean principles and knowledge acquisition. So whilst not burying agile he emphasized what we call agile today is very different from what we called agile 10 years ago. I recommend having a look at Alistair full presentation and related article.

I Come to Bury Agile, Not to Praise It

From Agile Development to the New Software Engineering











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Category: agile  application-development  sdlc  

Tags: agile2009  

David Norton
Research Director
7 years at Gartner
25 years IT industry

In his role as research director with Gartner's application development and architecture team, David Norton supports clients by developing and delivering quality and timely research. Read Full Bio

Thoughts on Agile – The end of the beginning

  1. Ryan Martens says:

    Thanks for the supporting color on Alistair’s talk at Agile 2009. I imagine you will have some good color on the whole show after watching how busy you were this week. It was great to have you and your firm in person at the event this year.

    I assume you and your firm along with IBM, HP and Microsoft may have a hand helping to shape agile as it enters the mainstream and it gets new emerging challengers. New innovations currently bubbling certainly include Lean/Kanban, and Behavior Driven Development.

    I am very glad to have you in the kitchen with us all as we try to advance our industry. It was a pleasure to meet in person this last week.

  2. David Norton says:

    It was a pleasure to be at Agile 2009, so much going on – great buzz. For me the big takeaway is we have turned a corner. And whether we call it Agile 2.0, Adaptive or super agile (I am joking before any ones blogs that one) we are dealing with considerably larger beast than before.

    Having attended some of the fringe sessions on complexity, set based design and systems engineering I am betting we see an amalgamation of adaptive systems theory, agile and lean.

    I will go out on a limb and give it a name System Centric Adaptive Development, but more on that in later blogs and research paper’s.

    Will be interesting to see how the agile community reacts over the next 18 months now the bar has been raised.

  3. As a note, Alistair’s keynote from Agile 2009 was videotaped and put on at for those that are interested in watching it.

    [full disclosure – I am the Chief Editor of]

  4. Hi David,

    I have followed Gartner’s work following the Agile movement for some time. Our consultants have been thinking about the evolution beyond the current “brand” and where modern software engineering is headed. We have stood up a blog called “SDLC 3.0”.

    Would love your feedback. We are actively discussing topics such as systems dynamics and leveraging PID control theory to take Agile beyond the trough of disillusionment as you folks say.


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