After weeks of debate, hundreds of personal hours invested in research, write ups, tweeting, linking, and sharing – Entech’s Agile Practice Office presents…..the Agile Madness final, starring Ken Schwaber vs. Kent Beck.
This debate defined the experience for our team, as we reached out to a variety of folks for opinion, conjecture, facts, and ultimately – experiences, with both Beck and Schwaber. As we dug into the rich history of Agile, we discovered there are many things not necessarily written down or available through scholastic research, as facts about each person’s life, do not always frame the argument using the best lens. The number of books someone has written does not always capture the essence of their impact. Their twitter campaigns do not always yield substance, and moreover, Agile Community involvement is not always free from self-promotion. While this was meant to be irreverent and fun, we also wanted to acknowledge that we discovered many faults with our model along the way, and have done our best to capture the transcendent contributions of both Beck and Schwaber.
Both Beck and Schwaber have earned their proverbial stripes as influencers. They are equally considered the foremost authority in their respective domains; Schwaber for Scrum, and Beck for XP and TDD. One of the differentiators we could find was around timing of their contributions. While both Beck and Schwaber were making strides in the mid 90s, Beck paved the way, and left his mark and influence on scrum. Apart from introducing “extreme” concepts that made up his XP Framework, Beck also placed a premium on testing – both code and business logic – helping to influence the creation of acceptance tests (in its earliest form) and acceptance criteria (in its current form). Beck also made sure he didn’t just praise the benefits of XP. In the series of books released, he dedicated one that was critical of XP, allowing developers to find the right set of practices that would work for them, and their respective user communities. This was all happening as Schwaber was working to bring Scrum to market with Sutherland and Beedle. While its publicized that Sutherland and Schwaber brought the idea to an OOPSLA conference in ’95 (and borrowed the idea from Takeuchi and Nonaka) – it wasn’t until 2001 that Scrum had been officially published, and greatly influenced by Beck in 1999. As a result, we are giving Beck the win for the Influencer category.
For Frameworks, this category was a bit more obvious to our team. While Scrum is still the most ubiquitous framework being used today, the principles behind XP, including an emphasis on building the smallest possible component, putting a premium on testing, and collaborating with business units – again paved the way for Scrum as framework. With that said, Scrum did not introduce any new ideas with how to promote code quality, like Test Driven Development did. Moreover, a lot of the principles that were the foundation of XP, became best practices for other frameworks focused on small incremental improvements, as well as the power of team. Beck wins this hands down, and goes up 2-0 in the Championship round.
Agile Community is one of the harder categories to debate for Beck and Schwaber. Both are highly engaged in the conference circuit, and carry celebrity status within the software development field. Given Schwaber’s involvement with the creation of both the Scrum Alliance and Agile Alliance, and his current involvement with Scrum.org, including a variety of training certifications for practitioners, our Practice team felt Ken was deserving of the win for Agile Community. With two categories left, Beck carries a 2-1 lead!
Both Finalists had compelling arguments to be crowned the winner of the Partnerships category. Kent Beck brings Ward Cunningham, Martin Fowler, Erich Gamma, Cynthia Andres, and Ron Jeffries – spanning frameworks, coding practices, injecting quality into development and testing, and the value of TEAM. Schwaber brings his partnership with Sutherland, as well as relationships with Mike Beedle, Mike Cohn and Gunther Verheyen – with a focus and depth on Scrum. It was literally too close to call, and we called this category a draw – with only one category remaining…..
The final category came down to Academics. From an Academics standpoint, Beck’s contributions span frameworks, coding practices, testing, and implementation patterns. It’s this well-rounded and consistent delivery over 15 years that edged Beck out over Schwaber to be crowned Entech’s Agile Madness Winner! Ken’s books are arguably used more by ‘today’s’ practitioners (ie. Agile Software Development with Scrum), so we could appreciate someone who would debate, and make the case for Schwaber to win. However, overall contribution is the lens we approached this entire debate with, and would be remiss to not carry that through to the final category, during the final vote.
Winner, Entech’s Agile Madness Bracket for 2015: Kent Beck, 3-1 over Ken Schwaber.