Got into a long comment on Nick Pelling’s blog. He’s sceptical about Eric Ries. I’m fairly neutral, but here’s my response to Nick.

Surely all practical knowledge is anecdotal and, therefore, an unwarranted step from the particular to the universal. All advice in this “genre” (Tom Peters, Charles Handy, Seth Godin etc. etc. etc. ) comes with an implicit health warning. And anyone with any experience of the world will apply salt as a matter of course. 

Should we hold that against Ries in particular? 

So his models come from the software industry. OK. But someone else’s advice will come from banking, or food retail or oil or the military. Each with some parallels to your business but each with its own idiosyncrasies as well. 

One thing you can say in favour of Ries’s bias is that more and more things are getting automated and so more and more of our world “is made of software”. Software processes are replacing other kinds of process that were embodied in administrative or managerial practices or hardwired into physical machines. In this world, improvements in software are often more effective than improvements in other areas. 

You’re a coder yourself. You probably know your Mythical Man Month etc. You know perfectly well that software doesn’t benefit from heavy bureaucratic management. But that exciting and effective software usually does come from small, enthusiastic, “agile” teams. 

So, if software is becoming an increasingly important factor in business. And software thrives under agile conditions, it would follow that business in general will probably benefit from agile. 

Disclosure : I’m a software guy myself, so I’m totally down with the land-grab programme.