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The Art of Agile Development

Cover of The Art of Agile Development by James Shore... Published by O'Reilly Media, Inc.
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Chapter 13. Eliminate Waste

It’s difficult to change the course of a heavy cruise ship, whereas a river kayak dances through rapids with the slightest touch of the paddle. Although a cruise ship has its place, the kayak is much more agile.

Agility requires flexibility and a lean process, stripped to its essentials. Anything more is wasteful. Eliminate it! The less you have to do, the less time your work will take, the less it will cost, and the more quickly you will deliver.

You can’t just cut out practices, though. What’s really necessary? How can you tell if something helps or hinders you? What actually gets good software to the people who need it? Answering these questions helps you eliminate waste from your process and increase your agility.

Work in Small, Reversible Steps

The easiest way to reduce waste is to reduce the amount of work you may have to throw away. This means breaking your work down into its smallest possible units and verifying them separately.

Sometimes while debugging, I see multiple problems and their solutions at once. Shotgun debugging is tempting, but if I try several different solutions simultaneously and fix the bug, I may not know which solution actually worked. This also usually leaves a mess behind. Incremental change is a better approach. I make one well-reasoned change, observe and verify its effects, and decide whether to commit to the change or revert it. I learn more and come up with better—and cleaner—solutions.

This may sound like taking baby steps ...

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