Rant on Working in Agile

If you ask people at any software development conference about the methodology they work in, you’re likely to notice that majority will just say “Agile”. Interestingly, they will claim so without taking a millisecond to think about it. On one hand, it’s kind of obvious. Who wouldn’t work using the best approach possible? On the other though, it does seem like a reflex. When asked about methodology, tell them about Agile.

It’s a little surprise that, when asked what they mean by that, each single person will give you a different answer!

The sole definition of word Agile sort of expanded beyond any reasoning. It is possible to use it as an excuse to pretty much every behaviour possible. If you fail to do a proper iteration planning, it’s not that you suck at planning. You’re simply ready to respond to any change, at any given moment, without any thought – which must be Agile! If you simply estimate whatever your client came up with and deliver it according to the plan, with no changes whatsoever, you might get worried that you do something wrong. But, hey! Just use story points, zillions of post-its, and have your team play silly games thought up by immature people characterised by inexplicable position names – which, in essence, is the Instant Agile Kit. And if your sales team is operating in the constant state of panic, firefighting, and sarcasm, it’s not like you have no idea what you’re doing. You’re just ready to deliver whatever any clients want you to. Which, again, must mean you’re Agile.

It’s just perfect excuse for doing stupid things.

The fact is, people mistake things altogether. When asked about methodology, they shouldn’t really use the dreaded A-word. Because it just isn’t one. Scrum would be a better answer, even though its die-hard purists would now shout that it’s a framework. Okay, if you say so… Anything related to some ancient thinking, like PMI, PRINCE2, IPMA or whatever else – would actually be quite a good answer. Because product development or value delivery is just part of the whole thing. There’s sales. There’s budgeting. There’s governance. All the boring stuff that Scrum Masters, despite their professional certifications obtained following a two-day course, know nothing about, don’t care about, and loathe. And while I’m far from saying that the classic management approaches are perfect way to address these minute details, they are very mature, well defined, and thoroughly tested.

Why not use them, until we find something better?

And the point is, it is not possible to work using Agile. It’s just not what you do. It’s who you are.

It’s not a set of processes. It’s a mindset. When you can swiftly shift the way your organisation operates to provide better value, you’re Agile.

Regardless if you use PMI, Scrum, or some monstrous Excel spreadsheet.

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