10 ways Agile feels like a fucking cult

** Disclaimer **

I have worked in Agile teams for over a decade. I have attended numerous Agile meet-ups & conferences. Recently I have been struck by the parallels between Agile evangelists and cult members.

While I fully support Agile/lean principles — I want to discuss the humorous parallels between Agile evangelists & cult members. This is 80% done in jest.

  1. Us vs them” mentality

You don’t want to be like them. Those Waterfall/PRINCE2/ITIL fucks. They’re outsiders. They’re has beens. They suck!

Be like us. Make a difference. Change the world. Come onboard.

In Scientology outsiders are called Squirrels. In Agile outsiders are called “FUDS” (non-Agile people that spread Fear, Uncertainty and DoubtS). Don’t fud about.

2. You need to pay money

Want to become a Certified Scrum Product Owner?? Brilliant. Just attend a 3 day course (with no exam) and pay £2500. Want to become a member of the Scrum Alliance?? Brilliant. Pay money.

$$$ Want to stay certified? Pay us. Every two years $$$

3. They‘re recruiting

Agile is great. You should get onboard. You should tell your friends. They should get onboard.

Agile is constantly recruiting. There are literally people called “Agile Evangelists” who gather people into the flock. It’s recruiting heavily.

“Hello. Have you heard about the local Agile meet-up in this area? Come along. We have free pizza and beers. Bring your friends.”

4. It solves all your problems

Want to be more productive? Happier? Better at work? Healthier? Respected? Understand your co-workers and friends? Choose Agile.

It will solve everything. You will become a better person.

Scientology uses the analogy of a bridge for self development. You can get to the end of a bridge. In Agile it’s a circle. It will never fucking end.

5. Vague principles everyone can buy into

Who doesn’t “value people over processes”. Seriously. Who picks processes over human beings?!?!

Agile terminology is deliberately vague. It will blindside you. You wouldn’t want to be unAgile. It’s basically saying you want to be slow & unresponsive.

It’s like naming a software methodology “The good methodology”. Everything else is fucking shit. You want to be good.

6. If it doesn’t work it’s probably your fault

As L Ron Hubbard said — the tech isn’t wrong. If you’re not achieving an optimised delivery team using Agile then it’s your fucking fault.

The techniques & principles cannot be wrong. Keep experimenting until you improve. If it works - it’s Agile. If it doesn’t - it’s not Agile. It’s your fault if it doesn’t work.

7. Numerous religious parallels

OK — so this is a group of ways Agile is like a cult/religion. Here’s direct parallels:

Post-it notes = Prayers
Any surface you can write on = An altar
Stand-up = Confession
Sprint Planning = Jesus on the fucking cross
Scrum vs Kanban = Catholics vs Protestants
“Pivot” = Hail Mary
Product Owner = the Messiah
Agile Manifesto = 10 Commandments

8. Tell us your secrets

The retro.

A bit like a prayer circle — or confessing with an e-meter — every 2 weeks the team talk about their “hopes & fears”. What went well for you? What could have gone better? Tell me your sins. This is done as a group. It’s public. It’s documented.

Testing didn’t go so well this Sprint? That will be fucking used against you John.

9. Love a fucking exercise

Want to mess with Lego or Playdo as an adult. You have 2 options. Agile or Scientology.

10. There’s an elephant in the room

Iterate regularly. Fail fast. Open source. Ship every 2 weeks.

Who DOESN’T do that??

The most valuable tech company in the fucking world ….