Agile Bashing?

On a few different lists, on twitter, and elsewhere, there seems to be some disillusionment with “Agile.”

Here is a great article that outlines the rancor.

Much like pre-Snowbird, in my last few engagements over the past 4 years (just by way of recent examples), I always pushed solving the underlying business problem and providing solutions, as that was what the folks I was talking to needed. It just so happens that I use a lightweight, agile approach. It just so happened that the client was cool with that (and even if they weren’t, I would find a way to do it anyway <g>).

In other words, I did not come in selling agile and accidentally found a project. I was selling being able to help their team solve a business problem and deploy a solution.

One engagement (i was leading the team for about 2 years) was with a company devoid of much effective s/w processes (inefficient waterfall and palpable business/IT schism). Now they have an effective (distributed) agile process, they have a lightweight set of tools, and a good relationship between the business and IT. As agile as I would like? No. But on a scale of 0 to 10, I am very happy that they are probably a 6-7, and even happier that they continue to try and improve. After all, they are in charge of what practices they chose to adopt within their own constraints. I simply shared with them how I have had success doing projects. Some things I suggested we adopt were rejected. Some of those bit the team later — which was a better lesson than had I forced it down their throats.

However, many other times, I think, people/orgs are seeking to just become *more agile.* Or they want their people to be certified in this or that. For some reason, they probably think this will help them succeed. And maybe it will. For me, it is a bit nebulous. I always like to tie all education/training with actual doing so that the lessons would sink in and so that people had a reason to succeed.

Unfortunately, these orgs seeking “more agile” may not necessarily tie the agile transformation to any sort of project success. Rather, they just want to learn better techniques in the hope that it will foster improvement to their bottom line. Sometimes it is just throwing a bone to the folks to try and take their mind off of the truly waterfall world in which they operate.

At times, the agile hype is almost like “If I wear these jeans, I will be buff and have great-looking people surrounding me.” As Madison avenue has brainwashed most of us, that technique is very effective.

Frankly, this is a normal process of a good idea being turned into a movement being turned into a fad being turned into a money-making opportunity resulting in disillusionment and spotty success.

Warts and all, I’ll happily take the rewards that having agile “out there” has provided “humanity” — even if it is abused at times.

The smart and skeptical will prevail and the easily duped will be duped. The beauty of a free market 🙂

Caveat Emptor!

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