Agile universities, certifications, agile consulting, traveling coaches, planning poker card sets, agile software products, agile modeling, agile arm bands, countless agile books and the crazed cycle of agile conferences.
The buzz cycle is in overdrive and it’s electrocuted the business world with the promise of faster, better and cheaper. This article is a plea to stop. Stop all the hype, the opportunistic profiting, and the marketing.
Good Intentions Turned Ugly
What started out as a challenge to the software development community to think outside the box ( invent, create ), abandon a one size fits all model to approaching software development and execute your projects in a pragmatic fashion that takes account of the context you’re working in….has turned into a marketing machine of horrible dimensions.
There was a time when people talked agile and you knew they were on the vanguard; trying to solve the real problems. They cared. They were passionate, deliberate, and informed. Now, when you hear a colleague professing agile…they’re most likely drinking the kool-aid poured by the snake-oil agile coach from Denver or San Fran. The formulaic response to the core problems is all too familiar and draining:
- Poor Requirements – You need user stories and iterations.
- Defects in Software – Continuous integration and TDD will solve that.
- Bad estimation – Use planning poker. It always works.
- Change Management – Break it up into iterations and embrace the changes given in iteration reviews.
I’m not knocking these techniques. Many are novel inventions that do have their place in SD/AD. But instead of being offered as potential options, patterns, techniques to solving a problem among many other potential solutions; they have become a sales pitch by the opportunist preying on desperate CIOs. Buyer beware. Bubbles pop and my gut says the needle to prick this balloon is getting very sharp and close.
Let’s stop agilizing everything. Good ideas, tools, and techniques don’t need the word ‘agile’ pre or post fixed to be worthwhile.
Come Back Home
So turn off the scrum-o-matic. Wipe the agile makeup from your face, and put the kanban sequin dress away. There are still problems to solve. We haven’t unraveled this thing called software development. It’s devilishly vexing and we need good minds focused on it. Become neo-software-amish, come back home to the forest of software trolls and invent/create again.
Tough words Chris. While you’re plea will probably be supported by many… in some sorts, you can’t stop the train.
Marketers will market. Sales people will tout “Agile” wares all over the place.
I think, how you best help your clients will prove the value of “agile” or “whatever” you decide to call it.
Peter…thanks for the comments. There are definitely some good folks in the agile community, but I just feel the hype and nonsense are ruining what was a good and meaningful intention to be better at delivering software. Am I losing the religion? Maybe. Look forward to our discussion tomorrow. Take care. 🙂
I agree somewhat with this post – generally buzz and hype taken to the extreme are bad – however I do think there is something to this agile everything (i.e. even beyond software development).
General principles like – don’t think you can understand everything in advance, iterate quickly to get real feedback, remove any waste in how you work, reflect on how things are done – are pretty much universally applicable.
Please note that although I support agile in general I do have some issues with agile software development (like XP). I’ve also proposed an agile approach to University courses (but have as yet not been able to test it).
Thanks for the comments. Yes there are universal concepts and I think many of the tools, techniques have value. But what’s destroying that value is the sell-anything-with-the-word-agile-in-it mentality. Good, strong agilists with the experience and knowledge to back up their reputation are being thrown in the meat grinder with the guys who graduate every 30 seconds with a CSM certificate. Some separation of the corn from the stalk is necessary. Pardon my mid-western U.S. colloquialism.
One of the best article I have read so far on the subject, and it really describes how non Agilists (and some Agilists) currently feel about Agile. What’s next, saying that the earth’s revolving around itself is done the Agile way?
I would really like to publish your post on PM Hut, where I’m sure a lot of project managers will enjoy and appreciate. Please either email me or contact me through the “Contact us” form on the PM Hut website in case you’re OK with this.
Sent you an email.
My kanban sequin dress is quite flattering, though.
That gave me a bad visual. 🙂 Hope A123 is going well.
I’m not sure if I want to be part of the forest trolls
We’ll keep a toadstool open for you just in case Peter. 🙂
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