Is that a gorilla I see over there?

A topic that I frequently run into at customers is the maturity of Agile. I usually present my matching of ‘Agile’ on the Technology Adoption Life Cycle with the Hype Cycle for Application Development. To show the evolution of Agile, and its outgrowing of the stage of anecdotal evidence.

Specific to the Technology version -for new high-tech paradigms- of the Adoption Life Cycle is the chasm, introduced by Geoffrey Moore. A phase of stagnation between Early Market and Bowling Alley. Of unpredictable length. And some products even never get out of it. Scary.

In the post-chasm period the viable market forms, and a gorilla rises, an absolute market leader. Alternatively the market leader may turn out to be ‘merely’ a king, much more vulnerable to being overthrown.

An important and disruptive innovation in itself, Agile is past the chasm. It’s probably in the Bowling Alley, maybe approaching the Tornado. At the same time Agile processes are applied to develop products that are subject to the (T)ALC. Best fit because there’s no time to stabilize into Main Street. And Agile offers just that flexibility while assuring a return.

At the same time I observe the increasing number of Agile players that is referencing Scrum. Practitioners, trainers, thought leaders, customers, etc. On blogs, forums, in trainings, papers, etc. You name it. Positively (“this is great, we also do it“) or more disapproving (“this doesn’t work, we do it like this“). Although personally convinced that they’d better highlight their own methods’ merits and strengths, I don’t oppose to it.

And Scrum prospers from it. Free publicity and a trigger to keep moving. I see evidence of the latter in the rise of Scrum.org. More community oriented as an alternative to the ScrumAlliance institute will it open the Scrum offering to a wider audience.

But it gets very uncomfortable when it gets personal. Quite vicious attacks are regularly launched at the persons behind Scrum and the people doing Scrum, away from the value of the framework.

Maybe that is exactly the indication that Scrum is indeed emerging as the gorilla of the Agile methods pack…

The adoption of Agile: TALC vs. Hype Cycle

An interesting poll was posted at Scrumology asking us to indicate where we consider ‘Agile’ to be on the Hype Cycle. A little note…

logo-myfragilityThe presentation of my framework My.Fragility starts with a general introduction on ‘Agile’ before diving into Scrum and going beyond. This introduction ends with a maturity assessment of Agile using Geoffrey Moore’s Technology Adoption Life Cycle. The conclusion is that Agile has Entered the Bowling Alley (so has definitely Crossed the Chasm).

In 2008 I added a comparison with Gartner’s Hype Cycle for Application Development, which puts Agile in the Trough of Disillusionment and predicts a period of 5-10 years before mainstream adoption.

Agile on the Hype Cycle for Application Development 2007 (Gartner)

However, having studied and compared both models I am convinced that Agile is -at least- on its way to the Slope of Enlightenment:

Agile on the Hype Cycle vs. TALC

Other objections I have with Gartner are:

  • Agile is primarily the common denominator of a number of methods and is as such not one defined method. As a practitioner of Scrum, combining it with XP and going beyond with My.Fragility, I believe these methods to be certainly farther in adoption.
  • A complete Agile approach covers a number of practices and disciplines that Gartner separates (e.g. various testing levels). See my indications on the Hype Cycle.
  • My intuition and daily experience contradict the 5-10y expectation.

Challenge: from the TALC I expect Scrum to become the Agile Gorilla