Age and Agile Are Orthogonal

Last week, I was working with a client in the Netherlands, talking about how to hire for an agile team. We started discussing how the management team reviews resumes. One of the managers said he looked for people under 40, because otherwise the candidate was “too old.”

Well, I passed 40 a long time ago, so I asked him how old he thought I was. (Yes, it was unfair and a trick question, because no man ever answers either “does this make my hips look fat” or “how old am I?” honestly.) However, the question did help him rethink his assumptions.

I explained that when I started working 30 years ago, we had to test as we went along–we had no testers. If we didn’t want to manually run tests, we built regression test suites. We obtained review on every work product. We made sure our work didn’t break what was already there–every day. We had to. The costs of making defects were too high to not use the preventative ideas that the agile community has adopted.

When you’re hiring for an agile team, the real question is: Can the candidate work in an agile way–the way your team works? It doesn’t matter how old the candidate is. It only matters if the candidate is willing to create chunks of working product, or is willing to learn how.

Labels: age, agile hiring

6 Replies to “Age and Agile Are Orthogonal”

  1. Age is no barrier! It is a figment of the mind. I am 47 and I manage a group of young developers.
    They are agile in thinking one dimensionally but I am also agile thinking multi-dimensionally. Sometimes, I see “solutions” with data that is always a “Aha!” for them. Sometimes, I learn from them. By working with young people, I keep my mind in agile mode.
    If my physical body could hold to eighty years, I will still be managing software developers. At least, I wish to do this for a purpose and it drives me forward. I guess that is being agile.

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