Can Evolution be Agile?

I find evolution to be a fascinating design process, yet sometimes I wonder if evolution can ever be Agile. The key thing about evolution is that time is plentiful. Agile time is broken up into short sprints.

Perhaps the sprint can be thought of as punctuated equilibrium event.

Evolutionary design is not without its faults – I’m typing this on a QWERTY keyboard. But does Agile avoid QWERTY decisions? It seems like the Agile tenet of delivering working software early can easily result in QWERTY inertia. If an early iteration release delivers great enough value, users run the risk of using the tools so much that that they become ingrained with the UI (or framework).

What is to keep an arbitrary design decision in an early iteration from freezing into place and lasting for many generations?


4 comments so far

  1. Sean Gillies on

    What? Reappraisal, redesigning, refactoring.

  2. Kirk on

    Hi Sean –

    Since users drive priorities, redesign of QWERTY features becomes a lower priority once users (testers) have invested time productively mastering the features.

    Maybe each iteration should have new testers that were un-exposed to earlier iterations, but that might be difficult. In a way, its as if tester and tool co-evolve, resulting in a tool difficult to learn by users who weren’t involved in development. Maybe proficient testers, seeing opportunities as future trainers, don’t offer complete ease-of-use feedback during design. Maybe the real punctuation occurs when a competing tool (“for the rest of us”) with greater ease of use is designed and introduced.


  3. PM Hut on

    I don’t quite understand your point: “the key thing about evolution is that time is plentiful”. Where and how you came to this conclusion?

    On the short sprints, it depends on your definition. In all fairness I think that Agile is not a Project Management methodology, it’s just an effective way to keep projects (especially software projects). under control.

  4. Kirk Kuykendall on

    To paraphrase Gertrude Stein: there are no deadlines in nature.

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