by Leon Rosenshein

The Way

I recently stumbled back across an article titled Ron Jeffries Says Developers Should Abandon "Agile". And it’s strictly true. Jefferies did say that. Unfortunately it’s not the whole story. That’s much more nuanced, and won’t fit in a headline.

What he said was that many organizations are imposing processes and systems with “Agile” in their name. Those systems use many of the same words and descriptions from the original Agile Manifesto. And there might even be some short term benefits to organization, but long term, especially for the developers, it makes things worse. He calls this Faux or Dark Agile and says those systems should be abandoned.

Which leads me to another article that upset me the other day. 5 Things That Killed Software Development for Me. Again, it’s this person’s lived experience, and therefore true. But is that really the story? I think the story behind the story is really about forgetting my favorite question. What are you really trying to do here, and why? Because what upset me about the article is that there’s no attempt to understand the why or to really achieve those goals.

It’s done because This is the way. And the way is all that matters. Or is it? Is the result the important part? As the mandalorian learns, there is the way, but the way is there for a reason, and the reason is what’s important, not just keeping your helmet on.

So too with Agile:

  • People and Interactions over processes and tools -- Scrum rituals are an outcome, not the goal
  • Working software over comprehensive docs -- Add value with incremental change.
  • Customer collaboration over contract negotiation -- Add value together, not as adversaries
  • Responding to change over following a plan -- Start with a plan, then adjust as details become clear