What is agile?

Interview with Raj Menon, the author of http://leadership.13apples.com/.

We talk about Agile and what it takes to be the Agile Expert. Here's a prelude to Agile before you read the interview.

We hear so much about Agile and Scrum- what’s the difference between them?
Agile is a software development methodology which is an alternative SDLC "better" than Waterfall, iterative in nature and encourages teamcollaboration, accountability and trust. SCRUM is a framework that helps execute agile software development. SCRUM emphasizes on enabling a self-organizing multi-functional team to work on prioritized tasks in 2-4 weeks cycles called sprints.

If you wanted to be an expert in any of these, how do you think oneshould go for it?
In my opinion, one does not become an expert in SCRUM. One can only try to follow SCRUM to the best of their knowledge and abilities to bring about a fundamental change in project and people management.

SCRUM is simple in concept but tough to implement. Why? Because changes are tough and it takes time, patience and persistence. Has anyone ever become an expert change agent? I don’t think so coz change is so dynamic in nature that whenever you go about changing something or someone, it is a new struggle every time. If you truly learn and follow SCRUM, you are a change agent. Your objectives are simply to change the way projects are managed, the way teams are organized and valued and make success a repetitive reality.

What are the pre-requisites for the Certifications?

  • A genuine interest to bring about a fresh perspective to software development.
  • Two days of free time
  • USD - $600 if you take it in India and $1300 in States
That is all you need to go in for CSM certification training.

How difficult was it to take the exam after just taking classes for 2days? Is that all the preparation you need to take?

This is a question everyone who is interested in SCRUM certification seems to be commonly wondering/asking. Yes, 2 days of training is all you need to learn and fall in love with SCRUM. In these 2 days you implement SCRUM from ground up and you practice it. You end up learning a lot and most importantly you will question your fundamental beliefs and learning’s from the past.

Any suggestions for taking the exams?

I have not taken the exam as I got certified in an Aug'09 batch, much before the exams kicked in. However, my suggestion to those who are taking the exam would be to pay full attention in the 2 days of training and ask as many questions as possible, even if you think it may sound silly. Keep an open mind. If you do, the exam should be a breeze.

On a personal note, how did you get into project management?

The right environment, the opportunities it provided, the leaders who mentored me, my confidence in pursuing challenges without the fear of failure, an ambition to grow, the desire to bring about changes, and my people management skills - are some of the main drivers that got a ASP developer into project/program management. It was a calling.

I know you blog, so what does your site primarily focus on?
Yes, I blog to feed my passion to write. My blog is called http://www.13apples.com/ and focuses primarily on leadership from every walk of life - from my experiences to my thoughts and observations of leadership that I believe is all around us. The site is also a source for Toastmasters speeches and articles on public speaking, communication tools and techniques, team building, team motivation and now Agile/SCRUM.

To know more about his experience, read this.

Raj Menon, the creator of 13apples.com (formerly known as lap31) is a Program Manager by profession and Leadership Blogger by passion. He explores the mindset of a leader and what it takes to be one as he shares his own experiences and thoughts through his writing. Follow Raj on Twitter.
(Pic Courtesy)


Anonymous said...

Nice interview.

I take issue with the statement that "Agile is a software development methodology..."

The Agile Manifesto (http://agilemanifesto.org) is the definition of Agile. It is a statement of values and principles. It has no methods. It cannot be used as a step-by-step guide to software development and does not define specific processes nor workflows, as a methodology does.

There are various frameworks and methodologies that help organizations follow the values and principles of the Agile Manifesto and so are said to be Agile. Scrum is one of these Agile frameworks.

Why is this distinction important? Because Agile is not something you do, it is a mindset that guides your choices as you do your work. It is a mistake to think the other way around. It is possible to "do" Scrum or Extreme Programming and still not be Agile. So Agile is not a methodology but an attitude and mental model of working that guides your choices in whatever actual methodology you use.