Agile has Lists but isn’t Lists

Andrew Vos tweeted (@AndrewVos, 15 Nov 2012):

Hey, guys! Guys. Listen. I found this new agile tool! It’s called “writing stuff down in a list, then doing them one by one”1

Andrew is right, the core of Agile planning is a list. Actually several lists. The product backlog is just a list of high level requirements. A sprint backlog is just a list of tasks to do during the sprint. And, more or less, the team does them one by one from the top priority to lowest priority.

But I disagree with the colleague of mine who said to me a couple of years back “Agile is just managing lists.”

The lists are useful tools for our own time management or for managing a team. But there is a lot more to Agile than just managing lists including:

  • Acknowledging it is all about people
  • Product ownership
  • Technical practices including automated testing
  • Focus on communication, e.g. colocation, daily stand ups
  • Making things visible, e.g. boards
  • Flexible scope
  • Delegation to the lowest responsible level
  • Deferring decisions to the last responsible moment e.g. Pain Driven Development
  • Emphasising user needs in requirements rather than technical components
  • etc, etc

(1) I moderated Andrew’s language somewhat.