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Agile Through the Eyes of a Scientist

WWT's Mark Balbes authored a blog post for ADTMag discussing how he views Agile with his science background.

WWT's Dr. Mark Balbes authored a blog post for ADTMag discussing how he views agile with his science background.

Posted by ADTmag on January 3, 2018:

Here's the origin of this article: I've been working with several new teams recently, helping them go through the usual agile startup process of figuring out how they are going to work together as a team.

And I was frustrated. Not because their activities weren't important, but because the teams all felt compelled to start from scratch. When experienced members of the team would suggest more sophisticated techniques, the team collectively would dismiss the suggestion, wanting to feel the pain and discover the need before adopting a more complex process or tool. They believed their situation to be unique, with little or no existing foundation to start from. And, therefore, they saw little or no value in experience and past results.

I find this phenomenon personally strange. With my background in science, I experienced first-hand both in graduate school and working as a research scientist a constant need and personal desire to stay at the forefront of knowledge in my chosen discipline.

How Is Agile Similar to Science?

Scientists must constantly stay at the leading edge of their discipline. While it is true that science requires experiments to be independently reproduced in order to verify their results, once a scientific principle is established, most scientists will accept it unless they have an interesting approach to disproving it or new evidence contradicts it. If all scientists felt compelled to start all research from first principles, there would be very little time to discover anything new. Perhaps even more importantly, no new evidence could be found that might contradict existing theory.

Graduate students learn that they must quickly and thoroughly learn the fundamentals of their science, followed by the large body of current research. Only in this way can they get to the leading edge of science and start contributing new knowledge.

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