Welcome to the Mainstream

Mary Poppendieck, Poppendieck LLC

As agile software development leaves the early adoption stage and moves solidly into the mainstream, Mary Poppendieck reminds us that fads in software development have come and gone before. What makes us think that agile is different? Unless we learn from previous attempts to improve development practices, we are destined to repeat the mistakes of the past. Mary describes three proven paths to failure: (1) Copy what successful companies are doing-You don't get to be world class by chasing after best practices, you get there by inventing them; (2) Force everyone to follow the standard process-The best path to success is leveraging the intelligence of "ordinary" people in the relentless improvement of your current process; and (3) Focus on technical success-Technical success is a euphemism for business failure. Mary explains that constant learning, relentless improvement, and systems thinking are the best ways to create a foundation for sustainable success-and avoid repeating the failures of the past.

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