Agile Devolved

I am safe; I am wearing my safety belt!

Teenage driver

We are fast; we are doing Agile!

Management team

“The word ‘Agile’ has been subverted to the point where it is effectively meaningless, and what passes for an agile community seems to be largely an arena for consultants and vendors to hawk services and products.”

Dave Thomas – Original signatory of the ‘Agile Manifesto’

“…we‘ve lost our way. The word ‘agile’ has become sloganized; meaningless at best, jingoist at worst. We have large swaths of people doing ‘flaccid agile,’ a half-hearted attempt at following a few select software development practices, poorly. We have scads of vocal agile zealots—as per the definition that a zealot is one who redoubles their effort after they’ve forgotten their aim. And worst of all, agile methods themselves have not been agile. Now there‘s an irony for you.”

Andrew Hunt – Original signatory of the ‘Agile Manifesto’

It is impossible not to stand by the four agile values as immensely insightful and powerful. Just do not put up with their devolved versions.

Burndown the chart

Individuals and interactions over processes and tools

Devolved version
Let’s rollout Jira™, Pivotal Tracker™, ScrumDo™, or “best tool name here”. And do not forget to schedule stand-up meetings, retro meetings, grooming meetings and sprint planning meetings.

Working software over comprehensive documentation

Devolved version
Let’s build software, quick. Do not slow me down with vision development, system design or conceptual integrity. A nice Darwinian process will take over, good features/ideas will stay and thrive, bad features/ideas will die away. Never mind that big whoosh you hear in the middle of the code base. It is just conceptual and technical debt.

Customer collaboration over contract negotiation

Devolved version
The following is a true interaction, the names have been changed to protect the innocent and the guilty:

Doug: “We do not have a story in the sprint for that.”
Ken: “Look buddy, here is your story, we need this in the next demo because that’s what we promised in the last meeting to the customer.”

Responding to change over following a plan

Devolved version
Here is the list of features that our key customer provided. Make sure they are on the top of the backlog when we plan the next sprint. Let’s proceed as fast as possible to the next local maxima.

What has not changed

At the end, my experience continues to be that the skills and caliber of the developers in the team is the number one factor in the success of any project. It is humans that build software, not methodologies.

The methodology you implement cannot create a killer team, but it certainly could kill your team.