Jurgen Appelo’s article The Death of Agile Courses has a provocative, but fallacious title. Here is why.
Today one friend of mine, who is a business trainer and, asked me if this article really describes what’s going on in Agile world. That encouraged me to write this post.
First let’s consider qui prodest. Jurgen is “writer, speaker, developer, entrepreneur, manager, blogger, reader, dreamer, leader, freethinker, and… Dutch guy”. And he also is a founder of Agility Scales — “game app, helps people develop agile mindsets”. So the claim of an article is basically the same as his vision. This does not necessarily mean that he is wrong, but this can mean that his opinion is probably biased by what he believes in as a vision of his company. I have to admit that I am probably biased, too — part of my job is providing Agile training. So the truth is probably somewhere in between :)
Jurgen supports his claim by a point that software evolved so that we don’t need software courses anymore. I definitely agree with that (especially because I see how my year-and-a-half old daughter uses her grandmother’s iPhone to watch pictures and video). But there is a weak point in this argument. In order to use smartphone you must use smartphone’s software — that is you have no other options but learn how to use it. On the other hand, Agile does no necessarily need any software. The good old lo-fi tools like whiteboards, post-it notes and flipcharts work extremely well. So even if we will have a software that developers agile mindsets (which I believe we will have), at least some part of Agile practitioners would need other ways of learning, rather than a specialized software.
I do completely agree with Jurgen that “the focus [of Agile training] will shift from studying and training to navigating and exploring”. And actually it is shifting right now. We see less training and courses based on theory, and more experience-based learning. Partly is happens because there are enormous amount of theoretical materials available now on any subject, including agile (and most of it is free). But the real cause of this is overall evolution of education itself. It’s our deeper understanding of human brain and development of new approaches to education based on this understanding what power this transformation. So the new technology is a catalyst, nut not the cause of this changes.
So the changes in Agile training industry from theoretical to experience-based learning is inevitable, but this not collapse, and definitely it’s don death — its an evolution. And the technological meant like Agility Scales software will not become a tombstone of Agile training industry — it will be part of a foundation for it’s evolution.