Sounds simple enough right? Unfortunately, I missed that lesson after being introduced to SCRUM, which I thought was actually called “Agile”. Why unfortunately? Well, this lesson in Agile 101 was taught to me by a potential client. Here’s how the conversation went:

Client: “So, what sort of development methodologies does your team use?”
Me: “Agile methodologies. They really work well for us.”
Client: “Oh really? Which methodology?”
Me: “Uh…Agile?”
Client: “I know that, but I mean what type of agile development you do?”
Me: “The one with Scrum meeting, I suppose.”
Client: “You mean Scrum?”
Me: “Yeah. Scrum…that makes sense.”

So, what did I learn? Agile is not Scrum, but Scrum is Agile.

As you can probably imagine, I was pretty embarrassed. My potential client schooled me on absolute basics of Agile after I tried to sound very ALM (Application Lifecycle Management) savvy to try land the client.

Although, since that conversation I have noticed that I am not the only one who has missed this basic lesson in Agile development. That is why I’m writing about this today.

When we sit down with a client or a new developer, someone on the team will eventually need to explain to them how we develop software. This way, the client knows what they are paying for and the developer learns that they will get to see their progress as they go through a project. It’s at this point where I see the problem occur. The person doing the explanation will tend to use the words agile and scrum as homonyms.

Here is a sample of what I hear when someone introduces the concept of “Agile” to someone:

“Our team practices agile software development, so you can see progress fast. On top of that, our entire team meets daily in what we call Scrum Meetings to make sure that we know the state of all the tasks that we are working on. This way, we can always provide you with the latest details about how the development project is going.”

See the problem there? The explanation implies that agile has daily SCRUM meetings, which isn’t the case. Sure, other agile methodologies might have meetings, but they aren’t SCRUM meetings. Hence, the confusion when I talked to about agile.

Ultimately, what I’m asking is for people to remember that although you might have the vocabulary worked out, new people like me don’t. When you explain agile or any agile methodology to someone, simply take an extra three minutes to explain the concept of agile separately from the methodology you want to teach them. Doing that might just save your student from looking ridiculous in front of potential client.

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About the Author

David Wesst, also known as Wessty, is a user experience specialist at Imaginet, based out of Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. David focuses his skills on web-based technology, primarily those residing on the Microsoft technology stack and HTML 5.

Twitter: @Wessty

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