What is the price of agile's success?
I might be a little presumptuous, but I think agile won the software delivery wars. I acknowledge my own confirmation bias, but I believe agile is no longer the fringe framework. I see agile delivery in almost every company around the world (whether they do it well is an entirely other question). But there has been a cost*…
Everyone wants a piece of the agile pie. And it’s a tasty pie - billions of dollars annually.
This brings out a lot of bad behaviour. I’m seeing so many organisations who say they are agile just because they have a daily stand-up. Almost as bad are the companies who want to go agile, but when you speak with them, they latch on the simplest part of agile which is similar to what they currently do, and assume that because they do that they’re already agile. Or the band-aid phrase; “don’t worry about X, we’re agile” <- I hate that phrase with a vengeance. Especially when “X” requires actual thinking.
But where is gets really messy are amongst the thought-leaders (within which I place myself). There is a tendency amongst thought-leaders, companies and consultants to invent something new**. In and of itself, there’s nothing wrong with that - but when that is combined with a lack of depth, a lack of understanding of the values and principles, and a lack of practical experience, we have a problem. Just as bad are those who create something for the sake of it, for ego, or just to “differentiate” themselves. Organisations who don’t know any better, buy processes, tools or consultants who also don’t know any better and the reputation of agile suffers for it.
I don’t have an answer. I don’t think there is an answer. It’s human nature to want to be part of something, and it’s corporate nature to try and make a profit out of something. Neither is a bad thing(TM), but we need to remember to look for evidence; remember “extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof”.
What’s the best (worst) example that you’ve seen? Let me know in the comments below…
* btw, this article is purely a rant - you can stop reading if you want :-)
** Of which, I have done. In fact the name of this article was given to me by a friend when I was seeking a title for my book. As a joke certainly, but one that has stuck with me for the last few years.