Monday, April 23, 2007

Is Agile Any Good for a Startup?

Agile is about reducing risk, improving predictability, and having more fun. Startup is about taking risk, making surprises, and having more fun. Is agile any good for a startup?

Startup can’t reduce risks, they take it.
Startup can’t improve predictability – there is none.
Startup can’t be any more fun – it is already too much to bear.

Despite rumors, agile is a disciplined process. It promise future benefits, but comes with a cost. Bad trade-off: start-up is a life boat that needs to get to shore before short supplies run out.

Optimizing dev process? Why bother improving speed in a future, get it going now! Code maintainability? Why bother, if it goes down the toilet faster then it’s written. Continuous integration, auto build, unit testing… Why bother? These best practices proved themselves in the industry. So what? A research lab is not like a production line.

The only thing from agile that suits really well is the motto: "Every day is a good day to die".

Ok, there is more. They share fundamentals. Focus on people, working software, customer collaboration and embracing change.

I am being controversial to stir the pot. Those who know me are not surprised. I don’t know if agile is any good for a start-up. Do you know? Leave a comment.

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At 5/06/2007 12:04:00 PM , Blogger Fernando Cuenca said...

I think Agile is not necessarily about avoiding risk, but mitigating it.

Risk mitigation doesn't mean steering clear of obstacles, but having a strategy on how to deal with them. Moreover, DeMarco's "Slack" makes the point that in order to take risks, people need to know there's a safety net, so risk mitigation is actually an enabler of aggressive risk taking.

Bottom line: yes, I think an agile approach is good for a start-up because it can provide with a variety of safety nets that will allow the organization to take risks more confidently.


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