Explaining agile through ...cleaning?
Here's a fairly simple way to explain agile programming: When cleaning your apartment, you can either clean it bit by bit so that you keep a reasonable amount of cleanliness all the time - or you can just let it be, and then have big cleaning days.
With the first, agile, method you need to maintain strong discipline and actually make the effort of keeping things clean, even though it isn't fun. The second method, is a lot easier day-to-day, but the cleaning day is usually a source of agony to all participants. Neither method is inherently superior to the other, but they have different advantages and disadvantages.
For example, if you have surprise guests, or your spouse arrives a few hours early (ahem), the agile method of keeping the house clean all the time works well. The house is already in a good shape - just do some dusting and that's it. With the second method, you will find yourself apologizing for your messy apartment many, many times. Or out of laundry detergent just when you need it. On the other hand, the second method works really well if you don't spend a lot of time in the house, and/or if you have contractors, er, a hired cleaner coming in every week.
Agile methods can usually cope with changed plans, schedules and scope - but they require a lot of discipline to maintain, and they're not necessarily fun. The laissez-faire methods may be fun, but they're inherently brittle when it comes to change. Waterfall (=doing lots of planning what to clean before actually doing any cleaning) is usually brittle and NOT fun ;-).
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