Agile software development as managed sensemaking

Ehlers, Kobus (2011-03)

Thesis (MPhil (Information Science))--University of Stellenbosch, 2011.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: The environment in which all organisations currently operate is undoubtably dynamic. Regardless of the nature, size or geographical location of business, companies are being forced to cope with a rapidly changing world and increasing levels of unpredictability. This thesis tracks the history of software development methodologies leading up to agile development (chapter 2). Agile development has appeared in response to the limitations of traditional development approaches and evolved to address the particular demands of a changing world (chapter 3). The theory of sensemaking is used to gain insight into the functioning of agile development. Sensemaking is introduced and a working definition of this concept is formulated (chapter 4). This research does not argue that agile development is the same as sensemaking, but rather that it can be better understood through sensemaking. Agile development can be seen as a type of sensemaking, but sensemaking is also a generic, universal cognitive ability. The structure and design of agile development is well aligned with sensemaking, and one can understand its nature and the type of management needed to support agile development better from this perspective. In fact, agile development directly supports and facilitates several important elements of the sensemaking process. For successful sensemaking to occur, certain organisational conditions need to be present. The term "managed sensemaking" is introduced to expand this notion. After performing an analysis of agile development (chapter 5), certain pertinent implications and challenges facing organisations are considered (chapter 6). By framing these implications in terms of sensemaking, practical management suggestions can be provided based on a good fit between the problem that agile development is meant to solve and the cognitive requirements of the process leading to a solution. The research conducted in this process opens the door to further research opportunities (chapter 7) and allows for the application of sensemaking in the context of software development methodologies. This study provides insight into the prevalence and functioning of agile methodologies, in software engineering contexts, by leveraging the theory of sensemaking to provide an explanation for the underlying worldview and processes constituting this approach.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Die omgewing waarin alle organisasies tans funksioneer in ongetwyfeld dinamies. Maatskappye word genoop om die uitdagings van 'n vinnig-veranderende wêreld die hoof te bied, ongeag die aard, grootte of geografiese ligging van die besigheid. Hierdie tesis volg die geskiedenis van sagteware-ontwikkelingsmetodologiee tot by agile development (hoofstuk 2). Agile development het verskyn as 'n reaksie op die beperkings van tradisionele ontwikkelingsbenaderings en evolueer om aan te pas by huidige uitdagings (hoofstuk 3). Die teorie van sensemaking word gebruik om insig te verkry in die funksionering van agile development. Sensemaking word ingelei en 'n werksdefinisie word geformuleer (hoofstuk 4). Hierdie navorsing argumenteer nie dat agile development dieselfde is as sensemaking nie, maar eerder dat dit beter verstaan kan word deur sensemaking. Agile development kan wel gesien word as 'n tipe sensemaking, maar sensemaking is ook 'n generiese, universele kognitiewe vermoe. Die struktuur en ontwerp van agile development is goed belyn met sensemaking, en 'n mens kan die aard daarvan en tipe bestuur benodig om agile develop- ment te ondersteun beter verstaan vanuit hierdie perspektief. Tewens, agile development ondersteun en fasiliteer verskeie belangrike elemente van die sensemaking proses direk. Vir suksesvolle sensemaking om plaas te vind, word sekere organisatoriese toestande benodig. Die term "managed sensemaking" word ingelei om hierdie idee uit te brei. Na 'n analise van agile development (hoofstuk 5) word sekere dwingende implikasies en uitdagings, wat organisasies in die gesig staar, oorweeg (hoofstuk 6). Deur hierdie implikasies te plaas in sensemaking-terme kan praktiese bestuursvoorstelle aangebied word, gegrond op 'n goeie passing tussen die probleem wat agile development probeer aanspreek en die kognitiewe vereistes van die proses wat lei na 'n oplossing. Die navorsing wat onderneem is in hierdie proses ontsluit moontlikhede vir verdere studies (hoofstuk 7) en skep die moontlikheid vir die toepassing van sensemaking in die konteks van sagtewareontwikkelingsmetodologiee. Hierdie studie bied insig in die voorkoms en funksionering van agile methodologies in sagteware-ingenieurwese omgewings deur die teorie van sensemaking te hefboom om 'n verduideliking vir die onderliggende wereldbeeld en prosesse aan te bied.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/6455
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