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Jurgen Appelo calls himself a creative networker. But sometimes he's a writer, speaker, trainer, entrepreneur, illustrator, manager, blogger, reader, dreamer, leader, freethinker, or… Dutch guy. Since 2008 Jurgen writes a popular blog at, covering the creative economy, agile management, and personal development. He is the author of the book Management 3.0, which describes the role of the manager in agile organizations. And he wrote the little book How to Change the World, which describes a supermodel for change management. Jurgen is CEO of the business network Happy Melly, and co-founder of the Agile Lean Europe network and the Stoos Network. He is also a speaker who is regularly invited to talk at business seminars and conferences around the world. After studying Software Engineering at the Delft University of Technology, and earning his Master’s degree in 1994, Jurgen Appelo has busied himself starting up and leading a variety of Dutch businesses, always in the position of team leader, manager, or executive. Jurgen has experience in leading a horde of 100 software developers, development managers, project managers, business consultants, service managers, and kangaroos, some of which he hired accidentally. Nowadays he works full-time managing the Happy Melly ecosystem, developing innovative courseware, books, and other types of original content. But sometimes Jurgen puts it all aside to spend time on his ever-growing collection of science fiction and fantasy literature, which he stacks in a self-designed book case. It is 4 meters high. Jurgen lives in Rotterdam (The Netherlands) -- and in Brussels (Belgium) -- with his partner Raoul. He has two kids, and an imaginary hamster called George. Jurgen has posted 145 posts at DZone. You can read more from them at their website. View Full User Profile

Agile Doesn't Make Sense, It Makes a Difference

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Would Madonna have been successful if she had styled herself M.L. Ciccone?

I don’t think so.

Names are important. Good names can be motivating, and inspiring. They make people want to be part of the thing represented by the name. They encourage people to actually do something.

After 10 years of Agile people are suggesting to drop the “Agile” name, because it was never exactly clear what it was. Agile means many different things to different people. And Mike Cohn hopes that one day we won’t use the Agile name anymore. After all, we all know that Agile is simply common sense software development.

But earlier this week I participated in a roundtable discussion about what Agile means for organizations. And these business people all agreed that Agile motivated, inspired, and encouraged them to actually change their organizations!

The brand name “common sense” simply doesn’t have that same effect on people…

Names are Important

One of the most effective contributions Scrum has made to software development is to rename the iteration and timebox to sprint. Business people happily agree to work in sprints. Nobody cares about iterations. Does that make sense? No. But it is important…

And I still think the biggest mistake with Extreme Programming is that they called it Extreme Programming. Which people outside of software development want to associate themselves willingly with something that is extreme? Again, it doesn’t make sense. But it does make a difference.

I fully understand that Agile experts don’t need the term Agile anymore. It’s too vague and to them it’s all just about common sense software development. But we have to face the fact that common sense in this world is actually quite uncommon.

So, let’s keep the name for a while longer. Maybe the word Agile doesn’t make sense, but it does make a difference. The word might not serve a purpose to you, but it does serve a purpose to others you will work with. Why would you throw away the thing that motivates your co-workers?

Now that’s something that doesn’t make sense.

Published at DZone with permission of its author, Jurgen Appelo. (source)

(Note: Opinions expressed in this article and its replies are the opinions of their respective authors and not those of DZone, Inc.)



Shumona Kapil replied on Sun, 2012/02/19 - 10:04am

Actually, I think Agile implements oases of common sense in face of man-made deserts of Dilbertism. The deeper question is how to reclaim the desert and turn it back into a vibrant, flourishing ecosystem.

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