Why Agile Should Not Forget About Software Crafters

Added to Mindset

Continuing my series of interviews with Latam Agile Luminaries, this time I had the great pleasure to interview Ana Carmona from Barcelona, Spain.

Ana is a software crafter with more than fifteen years of experience in backend software development; she’s also a strong advocate for Clean Code and eXtreme Programing practices. Besides her passion for the technical side of Agility, Ana is an active member in the Agile Community in Spain.

Ana started the interview by saying that developers in her community have felt, for some time now, a distancing from the mainstream Agile community. A sign of this is that there are too many Agile coaches, Scrum Masters, and the like who focus on the organization, the teams, and the processes, resulting in far fewer developers actively and enthusiastically applying Agile programming practices.

She observed that typically Agile coaches focused in introducing a framework or improving some aspects of the organization, but very few of those Agile coaches can actually code and provide hands-on mentoring to developers. A consequence of this is that development practices remain the same even after Agile adoptions attempts.

Because frameworks like Scrum or methods like Kanban provide ways to improve communication, team dynamics, etc., product development tends to move faster but with questionable quality because, as Ana stated before, software development practices remained the same.

Ana also mentioned that fewer and fewer developers are coming to Agile conferences, and that is one of the reasons why she and her community are working to popularize technical practices like Clean Code. Ana made an important observation: developers now have the same or higher workload than before in organizations that tend to maximize resource utilization and see in Agile as a better tool for that purpose.

Speaking of Agile adoptions, she mentioned that now we’re facing an interesting phenomenon: organizations keep hierarchies but with Agile terminology like Scrum Masters reporting to Agile coaches in Scrum of Scrums meetings. “Resources” coding as fast as they can to meet Agile metrics is another reflection of the same phenomenon.

Ana emphasized that we should go back to the Agile Manifesto principles that value more people interaction and creativity over resource utilization and hard metrics; more importantly, Agile is not about coding fast procrastinating quality — it is about crafting clean code.

She pointed out that the “software factory” metaphor is not the right one because it aims to factor software that just runs but with not much emphasis in quality. Software craftsmanship on the other hand, is a better metaphor that sees software creation as a craft in which quality is paramount — the huge payoff when applying this metaphor comes with time because it reduces technical debt.

In closing, Ana made a recommendation to the Agile community at large: read and learn about Clean Code. Even for Agile coaches that are not technical, this recommendation is valid because coaches need to know more about the coachees’s work and the Agile origins.

About the Author

Juan se especializa en entrenar, mentorear y hacer coaching de equipos Agiles para que en corto tiempo puedan alcanzar resultados asombrosos. Juan es también un agente de cambio que ayuda a que empresas completas vuelquen sus prácticas hacia formas más humanas de trabajo. Juan es un Certified Scrum Trainer (CST) y LeSS Friendly Scrum Trainer. Su formación universitaria incluye un grado de Magister en Administración de Sistemas de Información conferido por The University of Illinois at Chicago.

This is an Agile Alliance community blog post. Opinions represented are personal and belong solely to the author. They do not represent opinion or policy of Agile Alliance.