Politics, Religion and Agile

Yeah there’s some old saying about talking politics or religion is the fastest way to start an argument. Well apparently project management frameworks aren’t far behind in the PM world.

I’ve been in project management going on 9 years now and not until recently did I pay any attention to the discussion of specific methodologies and/or frameworks. There are a lot of smart people out there, but I’ve been blown away by those so committed to their own viewpoint that any other approach, practice, or thought is stupid, uneducated, weak, or evil.

I somehow stumbled across the “Anti-Agile Manifesto” recently. What I found interesting was a presentation that someone shared in the comments from Reaktor Dev Day 2014. It’s a bit long, but I thought it was a interesting perspective.

A few things struck me as I listened to the presentation:

  1. If you ignore the bluster and bravado with which he rants against Agile and Scrum his complaint (to me) appears to be I don’t like all your meetings and want to write more code. Fair enough…
  2. The Hacker’s code he would like to follow is really not that far away from most Agile processes. Drop a meeting or two and do some common sense things without formally naming it and we’ve got some common ground.
  3. MOST IMPORTANTLY…for all his complaining about Agile he does provide his own solution.

First, I must say thank you! Nothing is so frustrating as listening to someone rant about how bad someone else’s idea is with no recommendation of how to fix it.

The content of his recommendation was very interesting to me. I’ll let you draw your own conclusions, but here are my thoughts.

  • Agile is just a fancy term for what a lot of people consider common sense. Look at what you’re doing (developing software) and figure out ways to do it better. There’s no prescribed way of doing it. It only has a set of values related to the concept.
  • There are thousands of people that are being Agile with their project delivery and have no idea that they are being Agile. Heck, I was one of them for a long time. Go back to the Agile Manifesto. If you are valuing the things on the left more than things on the right and are adapting your delivery then guess what…you’re on the Agile path.

What strikes me is how passionate the “Agile Sucks” rant was and then in the presentation of his solution how much it paralleled the principles and values of Agile.

In conversations these days it seems, similar to politics and religion, that Agile practices are now just as likely to start a war in a chat, discussion group, etc. where people will fall to the levels of name calling and childish behavior. I don’t particularly know why this happens, but I suspect that, similar to other topics, in generally comes from a source of fear of the unknown or ignorance (not ignorance in a derogatory way).

The irony is that, in most cases, we’re arguing about which car to drive to get to our destination. Is a Ferrari really better than a BMW? Or a Hyundai really better than a Honda?

I don’t know…it depends on what you need and what you’re trying to do on your way to the destination.

At the end of the day listen to those with other views, methodologies, frameworks, approaches, whatever and figure out what they do, why they do it that way and put it in your toolbox. You never know when you might need it.

And in the meantime if your team isn’t working as best it can…go try something different that you made up. Then go share it with others so they can learn from you.

Who knows, maybe it’ll be popular and you can write a book about it.

For now let’s just all get along…

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