Agile, stop bullshitting me

by sebsonconferences

I wanted to write this for a long time and I must warn you: This is a plain rant.

I have read a lot about agile methods, management, communication and team dynamics and I must say: I rarely find any material that is to considered to be serious. Every week another new method emerges, that is marketed on the basis of a adversative meme, telling us “old method is X is flawed and to be considered evil, just use my method Y and be fine”.All these new inquiries for change of behavior have in common that, in the direct group of followers, a religion like behavior is shown that mainly neglects another thing as bad and the only option is to adopt the method of that group.

What bugs me most is the missing self critique in these new approaches. Does the “Lean Startup Community” blog about the problems and flaws in the Methodology? Does the Kanban Community address the fact that there are several things that lead to a “tayloristic approach” (means discouraging cross-functional methods of work)? Is the Lean community, or any method deriving from it, addressing the fact that there is evidence showing that applying it leads to local optima? has anybody seen that NLP is listed among pseudo scientific methods as “Bach Flowers”? Is the Scrum community discussing the fact that masses of teams are going away from the exact implementation of the method to scrum but(t) and out there are masses of developers who will be more likely to work as cashiers than doing scrum again? My point is: If we as a community address all critique in a way that points out that the person criticizing is wrong or has done anything wrong, we are creating multiple Problems.

Meme Transmission – Adversative: ideas that influence those that hold them to attack or sabotage competing ideas and/or those that hold them. Adversative replication can give an advantage in meme transmission when the meme itself encourages aggression against other memes.

This definition of the Wikipedia reminds me of the “Kanban vs. Scrum” Discussions in so many ways. Don’t got down the Scrum/Kanban road, you will die there. Come here praying at the “Kanban/Scrum” Temple.

Without any cynicism: The spreading of a adversative meme bears the problems that you will mostly convince your own peer-group, mainly people who already believe the stuff you are preaching already. To convince someone who is not in your boat already, there is a much more effective way of transmitting a meme or idea to a group of people.

Meme Transmission: Motivational: ideas that people adopt because they perceive some self-interest in adopting them. Strictly speaking, motivationally transmitted memes do not self-propagate, but this mode of transmission often occurs in association with memes self-replicated in the efficiency parental, proselytic and preservational modes.

And in this definition we find the reason why so many agile styles are popularized using methods that resemble the methods of radical religious leaders: It is cheaper to do the marketing this way. If I have hundred people “advertising” that Scrum (for example) is the way to go and you will probably die in your project if you use the waterfall approach this is more effective than taking things apart and explaining (in more than 140 Chars) why that is and while we are on it: Telling the people where the Limits of our own methods are and where they don’t work. Yes, I mean criticizing ourself, limiting the chance that people will adopt the method and henceforth not being in need for certificates, trainings and coaching.

Seriously, when I spot someone spreading a adversative meme I know it is just cheap ass marketing and nothing else. Sorry agile, don’t bullshit me with the notion that you want to “change the world” or “transform the workplace of the 21st century”. For the most people out there agile is a money thing and most of us pretend to be in the business for something else than the money. I don’t know how it is for the others, but give me enough money to settle down and I will stop being a scrum master and develop code for ANY OS project sitting very close to the beaches of Thailand.

What do I want to say:

If you want to change the world, don’t use adversative memes. Neither Christian Religion nor Racism/Fascism had a sustainable success with this. At least did both not have the pleasant outcomes that we want to have at our workplaces
I want you to criticize your own method like none else does, or I wont believe a thing you are promoting. You know you method best, so be the f*** honest with me

p.s. pardon my french, but I am really anoyed and I hope you can spot the irony/black humor. If not, there is always the comments to create better google search results for this page by adding a little slander 😉