Andy Hunt – the origins of the Agile Manifesto
I’m Andy Hunt. I’m known for writing The Pragmatic Programmer with my partner, Dave Thomas, which I’ve come to find out is, not only was it a best seller, it is the most recommended book on software development. Someone did an analysis a little while back and discovered it was the most recommended book, which is kind of cool. I don’t just say that to brag, because that’s going to be important as I talk about Agile here in a second. So back in the day, we were consultants.
We were out there in the field helping people develop software, helping educate their teams, helping them get better results. And all of our clients were sort of making the same mistakes over and over again. And human nature seems to dictate that when projects start going badly, you feel you have to increase the bureaucracy, more rules, more process, less variation. And that’s because that’s the sort of thing you might do for an industrial factory production line. But that’s 100% the wrong approach for software projects.
But this is what our clients were doing. So everyone was piling on more process, trying to lock it down, trying to get everything decided upfront and pump it out. And there was this desire, I think it’s still there, that software development should be like a playdoh machine where you throw raw material in at one end and you squeeze a little thing and these lovely shapes come out the other side. And of course, it doesn’t work that way. So we started advising our clients, nudging them towards more flexible approaches with less overhead, better and faster feedback, lower risk.
And the other fellows involved in the manifesto had sort of similar motivations. So, 17 of us got together and tried to hammer out something that we felt was common to all of our approaches, try to get some kind of common ground. And that’s really where the manifesto came from.