Agile and the Long Crisis of Software


Agile, a method for managing software development has achieved enormous popularity in technical workplaces of all kinds — and even non-technical workplaces. Where had it come from, and why?

I began to explore the history of Agile. What I discovered was a long-running wrestling match between what managers want software development to be and what it really is, as practiced by the workers who write the code. Time and again, organizations have sought to contain software’s most troublesome tendencies—its habit of sprawling beyond timelines and measurable goals—by introducing new management styles. And for a time, it looked as though companies had found in Agile the solution to keeping developers happily on task while also working at a feverish pace. Recently, though, some signs are emerging that Agile’s power may be fading. A new moment of reckoning is in the making, one that may end up knocking Agile off its perch.

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