Agile Innovator

Alistair Cockburn was there at the beginning of agile software development. He says the methods can benefit projects of all sorts.

In 1776, Thomas Jefferson penned the Declaration of Independence, the sweeping doctrine of principles for a new United States. In 2001, Alistair Cockburn helped draft the Manifesto for Agile Software Development, the core tenets of a nascent project management movement. So who better to discuss the history and application of agile methods than Cockburn? Here's how he answered Projects@Work's questions about trends in agile development.

P@W: How widely are agile methods being used?

AC: Going back to 1998, there were just a handful of projects being done by people who didn't know they had anything in common. In 1999, Kent Beck published "Extreme Programming Explained," and that put agile methods out to a wider audience. In February 2001, a group of 17 met to write the manifesto, and by the summer, agile development was a hot topic at all the leading conferences. Now there are agile conferences in New Zealand, Europe and two or three in the U.S. each year.

Agile methods are usually adopted by small projects, anywhere from three to 10 programmers. So there are just scads and scads of people who are doing it deliberately now, as opposed to doing it accidentally.

P@W: This approach was spawned by failures using previous methods…

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