We have been spending some time on the blog these past few weeks interviewing some of the “greats” of agile — people who have shaped the agile movement with their ideas and leadership. Hearing from these agile coaches, teachers, speakers and authors helps reveal where the industry is headed next, and has shed light on the value of the findings of the State of Agile Report, put on by VersionOne annually.

Today CollabNet VersionOne shares Q&A with Scott Ambler, agile coach and one of the developers of the Disciplined Agile Delivery (DAD or DA) framework. Scott shares some of the reasons DA has caught on (the State of Agile Report saw an increase in DA users from 1 to 5 percent in the last year). He also discusses misperceptions about agile and makes a prediction for next year’s report.

Here’s the full interview:

Question: The 12th Annual State of Agile report cites the ability to manage changing priorities as the top benefit of agile. In your experience, what is the greatest benefit?

Scott: I would agree with that. Being able to safely react to change is key into today’s marketplace. Traditional strategies just don’t get the job done any more.

Question: What is the greatest misperception about the agile methodology?

Scott: That would be a very long list. I think that the biggest misperception is that Scrum is sufficient for agility. Anyone who says that they’re doing Scrum doesn’t really know what they’re talking about, because to make Scrum work they would also have to have adopted strategies from XP, Agile Modeling, RUP, and many other sources. They’re very likely doing something much closer to Discipline Agile Delivery (DAD) than Scrum, but sadly don’t realize it due to all the marketing rhetoric around Scrum.

Question: The 12th Annual State of Agile report highlights that the use of Disciplined Agile (DA) has grown from 1% last year to 5% this year, why the increase?

Scott: As organizations continue to adopt agile across a wider range of situations, particularly in the enterprise space, they’re starting to discover that they need something a bit more robust than the agile strategies that are geared for simpler situations. DA has done a lot of the heavy lifting when it comes to figuring out how to apply agile in the enterprise, and as people start to realize that they’ve hit the limits of Scrum, they start looking around for something a bit more comprehensive.

Question: If you had to make one prediction for next year’s State of Agile report, what do you guess the new findings will reveal about where agile is going?

Scott: I think you’ll see that DA adoption continues to rise. DA already addresses a lot of the issues that organizations are struggling with, such as, how does architecture fit in? how do you govern agile teams effectively? how do you address regulatory compliance? and many other issues. You can figure out all these things on your own or you can adopt DA and get a very big leg up.

Question: Have you seen the greatest agile success when teams take a grassroots approach or when management leads a top-down approach?

Scott: You need both. Grassroots adoption on its own hits a glass ceiling pretty quickly. Similarly, a top-down approach on its own is pretty much guaranteed to be ignored by the people in the trenches. You need a combined approach where the team-level issues are addressed as well as the organization-level issues.

Question: Are there instances where software teams should not employ agile practices and other methodologies such as waterfall are fitting?

Waterfall works well in very straightforward, well-defined spaces. For example, if you were to do an infrastructure upgrade (say moving from Windows 7 to Windows 10) then traditional works fine.

Thank you Scott for providing these insights!

Please check out the previous two posts in this series:

“Q&A with Scaled Agile Expert Dean Leffingwell” and “Sanji Augustine Discusses Business Agility, High-Performing Teams and Opportunities in China and Africa”

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