Thursday, November 18, 2010

Best Agile Tools - By Blog Favorite - Woody Zuill

Here we go again. I asked Woody what his favorite agile tools/blogs are. This was his very well thought out answer (the bolding is my own):

"I don't pay much attention to the Agile blogs - there is a LOT OF NOISE out there with people giving advice about stuff they have insufficient (or no) experience to give advice about, and probably very few people available for taking that advice anyway. Many of the "blogs" are merely lame marketing efforts. The most solid of the bloggers are worth reading - but I don't typically follow them, but I'm more likely to click a link to an article if it is from a blogger who is someone I respect.

Tools for managing an Agile effort are another matter.

My one general rule about Agile Tools is DON'T (if the tool is in the form of a computer application). There are better alternatives. (I am not talking about refactoring tools, testing tools, etc. here - but the management tools, the communication tools, things like that).

Agile is best done manually, and the computerized management tools will in most cases be counter-productive IMHO. (Or IMNSHO - which is In My Not So Humble Opinion).

In a nutshell: You learn Agile by study and practice and doing and talking about the doing and so on. Tools often block learning by forcing you to follow what someone else decided is useful. Tools needlessly complicate the simplicity of Agile. Simplify, simplify.

Like the Agile Manifesto says: We value Individuals and Interactions over Processes and Tools.

I take that to at least partly mean that we get a lot more value out of focusing on empowering Individuals and improving our ability to interact well as individuals than on following some Process or using some Tool.

I have only one rock solid, immutable rule, however (that I reserve the right to change anytime): Continuously Inspect and Adapt - continuous improvement of our thinking, our understanding, how we learn, how we get along, our principles, our practices, our processes, our tools, etc.

So, if I found a tool that looks like it would bring me value, I would certainly investigate it, try it, and use it if it proves to be userful. And I would continually evaluate its usefulness. But typically - I follow the rule of DON'T when it comes to computerized Agile management tools.

Right now, my favorite tools continue to be physical ones - white boards and erasable markers, sticky notes (small) and sticky notes (huge), 3 x 5 index cards and Sharpies, face-to-face interactions and information radiators, blank flip charts and a digital camera, eye of newt and toe of frog (to paraphrase Shakespeare)."

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