Ken Perilman asked me this. I came up with some of these at the time but added some afterward:
- It’s a powerful analogy in the physical world for a an activity that’s virtual – software.
- It’s an engaging analogy a few nice pictures make a message more consumable.
- It can provide good visual queues for an audience. For example a picture of an exhaused climber is a good reminder that alpine climbing, like agile software development, is hard. Most things worthwhile are hard. The successes make up for the hardships and failures.
- It takes people out of the trenches and helps them to look at an activity they’re very familiar with from a different perspective.
On a personal level climbing has made me a better person and a better developer. It enforces some, if not all, of the values key to agile/XP development; communication, simplicity, feedback, courage and respect. Kent Beck once said that people who understand agile software development are agile in other things they do. Maybe this works both ways?