Agility Training, Software Development, and Writing Have a Lot in Common!

11 Feb 2024Steve Schwarz

Agility training, software development, and writing all follow a similar flow. HUH? As you poor FB readers have noticed by now, I tend to throw my ideas out here in a kind of half-formed state and refine them based on your comments when I realize I’ve left things unsaid or hadn’t made my message clear enough/at all.

What makes them the same? The idea of a repeating loop of: Planning - Training/Coding/Writing - Testing - Reviewing, where you incrementally approach your desired goal.

When I write software we Plan the feature (breaking it down into manageable pieces), Code (start writing the minimal viable implementation), Test (confirm the code does what we planned), and Review (check with the customer that we are moving towards the end goal). Then we repeat the loop to move incrementally toward the end goal.

Image from
Image from

Interestingly, this is called Agile Software Development. During the Review/Retrospective you might decide to completely change your approach because you are not getting the desired results. But, the short loop means it didn’t cost you much (in time/$s) to find out it wasn’t a good idea. You can also focus each loop on what is currently the most important thing.

This is also how the most successful trainers (in any sport) work. About 15 years ago Eva Bertilsson & Emelie Johnson Vegh wrote Agility Right from the Start and had a similar approach for their dog training sessions.

Agility Right From the Start Training Workflow
Agility Right From the Start Training Workflow

It also applies at the meta-level. You might be working on a running dog walk. When you Plan you break down the overall behavior into pieces that you will string together/build on to produce the overall behavior. Then you Train (where you apply the loop to adapt to what your dog is showing you) and Test their understanding. Lastly you Review: watch your video, reflect on your technique, your dog’s behavior, talk with other trainers/friends. You might decide that your approach isn’t the right one for this dog and consider alternatives for your next training session. Or address a different, more important, training task.

And the loop starts over with you Planning your next training session.

I hope the 3 other software folks reading this see my analogy. And, if you aren’t already, I hope this got you thinking about agility training as a loop of Planning - Training - Testing - Reviewing; where you incrementally adjust, discard, and progress toward your bigger goal.

I love finding these parallels between fields!

Lots of good comments on the Original Facebook Post!

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